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Fedster

Officer with 'highly respected' persona dismissed over offensive WhatsApp messages

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Fedster

'Off duty with certain friends, PC's conduct fell way below expected standards'.

Braintree police station: Where PC David Alston was based

Braintree police station: Where PC David Alston was based

Date - 19th April 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
4 Comments4 Comments}

 

The company kept outside work by a “highly respected and capable” officer sacked for sending racist and homophobic messages to friends on WhatsApp fell well below the standards expected in policing circles, a force disciplinary panel heard.

PC David Alston pinged offensive texts and video clips of extreme pornography to a WhatsApp group between March and June 2017.

He also failed to challenge a racist comment made in a message sent to him and as a result breached the ‘discreditable conduct’ standards of professional behaviour, the two-day Essex Police hearing at Chelmsford Civic Centre concluded.

The Essex officer was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed without notice.

Detective Superintendent Dean Chapple, head of the force’s professional standards department, said: “Racism and homophobia is absolutely disgusting and has no place in our society, let alone within the police force.

PC Alston was a highly respected and capable officer however his conduct, while off duty and in the presence of selected friends who were not associated with policing, fell way below the standards we expect of our officers and in no way represents our values.

“All police officers are responsible for their own actions and we cannot just turn off those standards and values in policing when it suits a given environment or group.

“His actions, and the views he expressed, have no place in Essex Police.

“They damage the relationships we have with minority communities and could discourage people from those communities from reporting crime to us or applying to work for us.”

Det Supt Chapple pointed to staff support networks that help to improve the understanding of minority issues and “ensure they’re reflected through our work” as well as independent advisory groups providing advice, insight, and practical assistance around issues such as race, faith and issues affecting the LGBT community.

Minority Ethnic Support Association chairman, PCSO Macdonald Neife, said: “We have worked closely with colleagues at all levels in Essex Police, including the chief constable, and have seen first-hand the positive direction it takes with diversity and inclusion.

“We are not aware of any systemic racist or negative cultural behaviour, but would encourage any colleagues who are aware of unacceptable behaviour to report this through the channels available.”

Essex-wide IAG chairman Neil Woodbridge added: “Obviously I was disappointed to hear about the alleged behaviour of the PC recently disciplined.

“For me personally I have found that Essex Police consistently tries its hardest to show a keen understanding that they work for all the community of Essex.

“So when someone chooses to act in a way that is apparently disrespectful of any members of that community, I feel saddened.

“My experience of senior officers at present is that they are very aware that a level of professionalism is expected from their service at all times.”

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David

Not sure his sacking sits comfortably with me. On or off-duty, so long as it's not in any way representing his or any police force or affects the way he works in his beliefs/opinions, he's every right to his beliefs/opinions and in a free country has every right to express them, certainly on a personal level.

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Cathedral Bobby
Posted (edited)

Sends a clear message to any prospective officer; You do anything, anywhere, anytime we don't like and you're out of a job. Big Brother is out there!

Edited by Cathedral Bobby

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Zulu 22

Cue a witch hunt for having an opinion that some do not agree with. It smacks very strongly of the witch hunt against rugby union players Faaetau and Vunipola for holding and expressing Christian views. What has happened to free speech in the world.

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Mac7
Cue a witch hunt for having an opinion that some do not agree with. It smacks very strongly of the witch hunt against rugby union players Faaetau and Vunipola for holding and expressing Christian views. What has happened to free speech in the world.



If your religion does not agree with homosexuality then that does not give you the defence to be homophobic. You should still have respect for everyone regardless of their sexuality etc. I’m sure whichever religion you subscribe to would promote respect and tolerance for your fellow humans.

I struggle to comprehend that this is a witch hunt and that whatever an officer does in their spare time is ok as long as it doesn’t affect their professional life.

We all know the standards of professional behaviour that we must abide by whether that’s on or off duty. I would assume that this has either come via a complaint or separate PSD investigation. Either way, the behaviour displayed is below that expected and he has been dealt with accordingly.

Thankfully officers with such views are rare and people should not need to be warned about big brother. Act how you are supposed to act and you will be fine.
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Beaker



Act how you are supposed to act and you will be fine.



When I did my induction the PSD input was interesting. I figured after all the Big Words were used, and the possible sanctions outlined it boils down to "Don't be a d***".
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Reasonable Man

I think the comments so far represent a generational difference. Standard of Professional Behaviour number 9 says it all - on or off duty.
Everyone is entitled to free speech, but as with the rugby players, if you sign that right away in a contract of employment then don’t expect to be able to claim it when you breach your contract. Speak and share your racist, homophobic, pornographic, sexist views all you like, but don’t expect to hold down a job in the police.

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Richhamdo
7 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

I think the comments so far represent a generational difference. Standard of Professional Behaviour number 9 says it all - on or off duty.
Everyone is entitled to free speech, but as with the rugby players, if you sign that right away in a contract of employment then don’t expect to be able to claim it when you breach your contract. Speak and share your racist, homophobic, pornographic, sexist views all you like, but don’t expect to hold down a job in the police.

@Reasonable Man  Your  letter above just about summed it all up for me as far as expected behaviour goes,its not exactly rocket science.  I spent quite few years as a special helping out the regulars whenever and wherever i could. . Some parts of policing i found hard to keep up with as they were always changing things ,it got even harder when P.A.C.E. came in, I needed to attend every training session going over the years just to keep my finger on the pulse so to speak.  Other  parts of policing i found  was as easy as falling off a log. The part i found very easy and to which i refer [i am finally getting to the point] was dealing with the public in a fair, polite and impartial manner. I soon found out after about six months of joining that doing that made the job a lot easier to sort out, [and also made my partners job easier] i could go home and sleep soundly knowing i wouldn't be getting a call from “complaints and discipline” on Monday morning.

Of course i had my share of cantankerous people on friday or saturday night to deal with, some of them were as high as a kite and some you just couldn't reason with, but as the saying goes if you cant stand the heat, keep out of the kitchen. Mind you i was always “old” according to my brothers and sisters  and so that helped a lot😀.  

So to sum up, as i see it its just no good at all making a rod for your own back, you have to be on your best behaviour and follow the ndm,  full stop.  Rich.  

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