- Pc Jason Charles, 30, has been sacked after going to rugby match on duty
- He was on emergency response and was found to have ignored a 999 call
- Police officer already had a final written warning hanging over him at time
- Pc Charles also got drunk and smashed glass in a pub in separate incident
22 FEBRUARY 2016 | UPDATED: 22 FEBRUARY 2016 | BY Sam Tonkin FOR MAILONLINE
It happened after he was told he could face action for parking his patrol car at Gloucester Rugby Club’s Kingsholm Stadium and going in during extra time of a close-fought European Cup play-off match between Gloucester and Connacht last May.
While in the ground, in full uniform, he received radio calls from his control room about two incidents. He answered one but not the other, which was a ‘Grade One’ 999 call from a woman at a nearby address.
His actions led to disciplinary proceedings by Gloucestershire Police and then, while that was ongoing, he got drunk in a Wetherspoons pub and smashed a glass by punching it on the bar.
A two day misconduct hearing into both incidents ended with Pc Charles, of Hardwicke, near Gloucester, being summarily dismissed by a panel chaired by the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police, Suzette Davenport.
She said the panel found he had no good policing reason for entering the rugby stadium and had abused his position by going in without paying and while on duty.
The panel also found it was more likely than not that he had heard the 999 call while at the match but did not respond to it, she said.
Pc Charles, whose brother, uncle and cousin have all played rugby for Gloucester, had denied that he had a particular interest in the sport and insisted he had gone into the ground for genuine policing reasons. He said he wanted to provide ‘high visibility policing’ and reassurance.
Regarding the glass smashing incident, which happened at the pub in Gloucester docks on Sept 5 last year, the Chief Constable said the panel rejected the officer’s claim that it was an accident while he was drunkenly ‘shadow boxing’ at the bar.
He told the tribunal he had not intended to make contact with the glass and the smashing was an accident.
The panel watched CCTV of Pc Charles moving the glass closer to the edge of the bar, looking at who was around him and then punching it with his left fist. It smashed in the staff area behind the bar but no one was hurt.
Chief Constable Davenport said: ‘We have determined that he deliberately struck the glass and was reckless of the potential danger and injury that may have been caused.
‘This behaviour is not consistent with the office of a Constable.’
Pc Charles’ denial to pub staff that he had smashed the glass was damaging to the public’s faith in the integrity and honesty of the police, she added.
The panel found that Pc Charles was guilty of misconduct by going into the rugby game and of gross misconduct by smashing the glass.
Pc Charles, a police officer for ten years, had already received a final written warning before the two incidents.
That was issued after an incident in December 2014 when he was drinking at the H2O club in Gloucester and got into an altercation with door staff which ended with him being ejected.
Police officers at the scene gave him ‘advice’ but he reacted by saying ‘I don’t give a s***’ and behaving in a ‘nonchalant and disrespectful manner.’
This behaviour is not consistent with the office of a Constable
Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police, Suzette Davenport
After the panel found both misconduct cases proved against Pc Charles the Chief Constable said there were no exceptional circumstances to justify extending the officer’s final written warning and the only sanction was immediate dismissal without notice.
During his evidence to the panel, Pc Charles said he had decided to call in at the rugby match while driving past and seeing the gates open and people outside.
He asked them what the score had been and they told him the match was going into extra time so he walked in ‘to provide high visibility policing,’ he said.
He told the panel he believes officers should be seen in public as often as possible to deter crime and provide reassurance. Once in the ground he stood in a corner talking to stewards during the extra time period, he said.
Pc Charles would not say whether or not he had heard the Grade One 999 call to Ayland Gardens, just over a mile from the ground. The panel was told Pc Charles was one of the closest response officers to the scene and should have acknowledged the call.
He refused to answer questions about it, saying he considered that when he was originally interviewed by police disciplinary investigators they had breached regulations by not giving him full and correct details of the allegation.
Regarding the glass punching incident he admitted he was drunk at the time but said he was in that state because he was suffering stress and anxiety about the investigation. He had been shadow boxing at the bar and intended to stop short of hitting the glass, he said.
Pc Charles, who was not represented at the hearing, made lengthy addresses to the panel claiming he had been victimised because he had made seven ‘whistle blowing’ complaints to senior officers and the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the issue of the final written warning.
He argued that the disciplinary proceedings against him were disproportionate and unfair and that the rugby incident should have been dealt with by ‘management advice.’
Other officers had also gone to watch Gloucester play while on duty and had not had to face misconduct proceedings, he said. He showed the tribunal a picture of two firearm officers on the Kingsholm terraces during a match and claimed they had no reason to be there.
He said the problems in his career began in 2014 when he was transferred from Stroud to Gloucester after CS-gassing eight people involved in street violence in the town in June of that year. He had been an acting sergeant at that time but was not allowed to continue in that role after he was moved, he said.
Pc Charles claimed he also had a ‘personal development plan’ imposed on him which affected his morale and state of mind and led to the drunken incident at the end of 2014 when he received the final written warning.
Stroud district council chairman Mark Rees, a painter and decorator who served as a special constable for 33 years and is a member of the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Panel, gave evidence on Pc Charles’ behalf during the hearing.
He told the panel: ‘I fully understand why he went into the rugby match. I trained him that way when he was a special constable. I trained him that you get out and about and meet the public and interact with them.
‘From what I have seen of his service in the police it has been excellent. He is envied by many for his arrest rate and detections, especially when he was in the Avon and Somerset force before joining Gloucestershire. He was a glowing star there.
‘I accept Jason is not perfect and there have been times when he may have acted defiantly. But he is honest, he is decent, he is motivated, he is very articulate and very knowledgeable of the law.
‘I believe he is a plus to this force. Yes, he has made some barking mistakes, that is quite clear. He has made mistakes. But I think there have been mistakes on both sides. He is able to motivate people and he is a good copper.
This is a very dark period of his life.
‘But if I thought he was a prat and shouldn’t be in the police I wouldn’t be here to support him.’
Councillor Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, also supported Pc Charles.
In a letter to the officer he wrote: ‘You have always displayed real passion for the city of Gloucester in its widest sense. I know you have a strong belief in visible community policing and I hope you will continue to be able to do so.’
Justin Hudson, manager of Butler’s Bar in Gloucester and chairman of the city LVA, supported Pc Charles, saying he had an innovative and effective approach to city centre policing.
He described Pc Charles as having a positive and powerful aura which ‘sub consciously repels criminal activity.’
He added: ‘Jason will always make his presence felt along the entire street during shifts that he works.’
After the hearing Pc Charles said he will appeal against the panel’s findings and his dismissal.