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Force lays down law of 'appropriate boundaries' as officers face misconduct hearing over sex claims

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Chief inspector also accused of intimate liaison with domestic abuse victim.

Sussex Police: Under scrutiny in recent years

Sussex Police: Under scrutiny in recent years

Date - 12th February 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
2 Comments2 Comments}

 

Officers and new recruits are being given specific training and guidance as a sex scandal-hit force faces renewed scrutiny over allegations of an on-duty intimate liaison between a chief inspector and a sergeant.

Sussex Police is urging its workforce to adopt “appropriate professional boundaries” in the wake of a police watchdog confirming misconduct proceedings against Chief Inspector Rob Leet and Sergeant Sarah Porter will go ahead.

The pair are said to have met for a romantic encounter on at least one occasion in 2017 while they were working.

 

The chief inspector has also been accused of having sex with a victim of crime years earlier.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has just announced the findings of a two-year investigation.

CI Leet was suspended from duty while the investigation continued.

The married father-of-four previously said the claims regarding his liaison with Sgt Porter were unfounded.

They are accused of travelling to meet each other while on duty when there was no work-related reason to do so and "repeatedly" using police systems to exchange personal messages, a police watchdog spokesman said.

After the IOPC launched the investigation in March 2017 – and following publicity of the case – it is understood a victim of domestic violence came forward with the further allegations.

This means CI Leet now also stands accused of being intimate with the victim in 2014 and 2016.

Sgt Porter was unable to be contacted when a fatal crash happened while she was on duty and approached a witness in the IOPC investigation "inappropriately", it is also alleged.

The IOPC said: "We concluded that if proven, the behaviour would be a breach of standards of authority, respect and courtesy and duties and responsibilities and could amount to gross misconduct.

"Sussex Police agreed and a hearing will be scheduled in due course."

The force has been embroiled in a large number of ignominious sex claims in recent years, including two that resulted in criminal convictions

In October former Brighton-based PC Alexander Walsh was handed a community order for stalking and common assault after unleashing a barrage of sexual propositions on a colleague when she was held in a patrol car with him for more than an hour after dark.

The former Met Police officer, who then joined the Sussex force, was spotted by fellow officers groping the woman on a work night out before badgering her with suggestive texts and taking pictures of her without her consent.

That same month prosecutors dropped a case against Brighton-based Inspector Tony Lumb, who faced allegations he had sex with women he met while on duty.

The former elected member of the local Police Federation branch's board was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, interviewed under caution, released on bail and suspended from the force pending an IOPC investigation.

The police watchdog said it found evidence to suggest a criminal offence may have been committed.

The CPS has been asked to review its charging decision after one of the complainants, 52-year-old online abuse campaigner Nicola Brookes, called the news "shocking".

Insp Lumb could still face disciplinary proceedings.

In April a second officer was caught selling himself for sex while on sick leave.

Detective Constable Richard Holder was sacked without notice for gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing but had already resigned.

This came after Hastings-based PC Daniel Moss was investigated and suspended from duty in December 2016 after he was caught advertising himself online as a male prostitute and offered to perform sex acts for cash.

He had been on sick leave since that September for stress.

He also failed to attend misconduct proceedings and was dismissed with immediate effect.

In March sexual offences liaison officer and PC Martin Harris was jailed for two years for misconduct in public office, downloading and making indecent images of children.

He said he found a rape victim in his care "attractive" and had hacked into her Facebook account to download pictures of her as a child.

PC Mark Scruby was sacked from the force in 2017 after telling his sergeant she resembled a porn star.

In 2015 Insp Lee Lyons was fired after admitting he contacted prostitutes while on duty.

Officers and new recruits are now being given "specific training and guidance" so they are aware of "appropriate professional boundaries", the force said.

A statement said: "Sussex Police takes any report of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously.

"We have adopted the National Police Chiefs' Council's national strategy to address the issues of police officers and staff who abuse their position for a sexual purpose or to pursue an improper emotional relationship.

"The key principles are prevention, intelligence, enforcement and engagement.

"We are ensuring that all staff are aware of appropriate professional boundaries and the serious consequences of any abuses of position.

"Officers and staff across the organisation, including new recruits, have or are receiving specific training and guidance, enabling them to know the boundaries and stick to them, reporting any colleagues who fall short.

"There is a positive duty under the College of Policing's code of ethics to challenge and to report.

"Any reports will be fully investigated.

"Those who are found to have committed misconduct could face dismissal and prosecution."

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Reasonable Man

Do don’t have sex with your colleagues while on duty. Don’t have sex with victims or witnesses. Don’t be a prostitute. Don’t harass people, including colleagues for sex. Don’t grope colleagues. Don’t hack computers. Don’t obtain indecent photos of children and don’t tell your sergeant that they look like a porn star.
I never had that training session but managed to get through 36 years.

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a-bothan-spy

Being sacked for telling your sergeant they resemble a porn star seems a bit harsh.

Clearly an ill-considered thing to do, but still...

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Hyphen
2 hours ago, a-bothan-spy said:

Being sacked for telling your sergeant they resemble a porn star seems a bit harsh.

Clearly an ill-considered thing to do, but still...

I do agree with this point, there must have been a lot more to it. Probably not something I would say, but we don’t know the context behind it.

The rest is just utter stupidity in the article.

Edited by Hyphen

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Zulu 22

There should be no need for any Force to issue such advice. If an officer does not know that this type of behaviour is utterly not acceptable then they are in the wrong job. It certainly would appear that Sussex has massive problems with this type of behaviour.

It must be depressing to serve with officers mentioned in the original post and, with that type of behaviour what message is it giving the general public.

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Cathedral Bobby
3 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

There should be no need for any Force to issue such advice. If an officer does not know that this type of behaviour is utterly not acceptable then they are in the wrong job. It certainly would appear that Sussex has massive problems with this type of behaviour.

It must be depressing to serve with officers mentioned in the original post and, with that type of behaviour what message is it giving the general public.

With employment law as it is without such guidance perpetrators can always claim ignorance. Being told isn't the same as it being in black on white and then there can be no excuses. Also it does say to MOP and prospective candidates the level of restrictions you sign up to when you join.

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Zulu 22
44 minutes ago, Cathedral Bobby said:

With employment law as it is without such guidance perpetrators can always claim ignorance. Being told isn't the same as it being in black on white and then there can be no excuses. Also it does say to MOP and prospective candidates the level of restrictions you sign up to when you join.

If they have to be told that such behaviour is not acceptable then they should not be in the job to start with. The Force have a duty to employ suitable people. If they should even consider that this type of behaviour  is appropriate then there is no place for them in the Police Service.

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