Officer avoided disciplinary hearing after leaving force
20 MARCH 2016 | UPDATED: 20 MARCH 2016 | BY JOE THOMAS FOR LIVERPOOL ECHO
A Merseyside Police officer accused of visiting sex workers while on duty has been allowed to resign ahead of a misconduct hearing.
The allegations meant the officer was facing an internal misconduct hearing , potentially paving the way for his dismissal.
But he will now avoid further scrutiny after the force accepted his resignation due to “exceptional circumstances”.
Those circumstances had already led Merseyside Police to take the unprecedented step of protecting the officer’s identity and scheduling the investigation behind closed doors.
This was despite new regulations, introduced by the government, calling on forces to hold such hearings in public in a bid to build trust.
Now the ECHO can reveal the officer did not even face a private hearing into his alleged actions after his application to leave the force was accepted.
Offers of resignation by an officer facing misconduct claims can only be accepted if the accused is deemed medically unfit or in other “exceptional circumstances which justify the appropriate authority giving consent to the notice of intention to resign or retire”.
Explaining the force’s position, a spokesman said: “Where Merseyside Police receive a request from an officer to resign in circumstances such as this, that request is considered very carefully. It is accepted that a decision to permit a resignation can be subject to Judicial Review and, as such, resignation will be only be permitted in accordance with these regulations and, if appropriate, supported by evidence.”
In a separate statement the force added: “An officer was due to attend a fast track hearing. The matter was adjourned. Since that date the officer has tendered his resignation. In accordance with regulation 10A (5) Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 as amended, that resignation has been accepted and the officer is no longer a serving officer within Merseyside Police.”
While the officer will not face the conclusion of the investigation into his alleged actions, his details have been sent to the National College of Policing for inclusion on the Reserved Officers list – meaning it is unlikely he will be able to join another force.
Documents made public ahead of his initial misconduct hearing revealed he faced four claims of misconduct.
He was expected to have to answer to claims that: “Being an officer of Merseyside Police you breached the standards of professional behaviour as set out in the schedule to the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 in that whilst on duty you used a police vehicle to visit a sex worker, within the Merseyside area, and you paid for and received sexual services from that sex worker.”
The officer faced the same allegation, said to have happened on a different day, except on that occasion he was accused of visiting a prostitute outside Merseyside.
He was also accused of visiting a sex worker in a force vehicle and while on duty – but not of receiving “sexual services” – on two other occasions.
Eight Merseyside police misconduct hearings have been held since regulations called for them to take place in public were introduced, but this is the only case so far where the accused’s identity has been protected and the disciplinary proceedings held in private.
A spokesman for the Police Federation said: “Under Police Conduct Regulations in exceptional circumstances an officer under investigation may be allowed to resign.
“In this case the Police Federation made an application that the exceptional criteria was met, the Appropriate Authority agreed and the officer was permitted to resign.”
Earlier this year, another officer, who was sacked after meeting prostitutes in hotels for sex, was also allowed to remain anonymous, although his hearing, which he did not attend, was held in public.