Two Dorset Police officers were dismissed yesterday (10 December) for gross misconduct following a four-day independent hearing.
Police Constable Neil Bowditch and Police Sergeant Mark Hughes were found guilty and dismissed without notice by an independent panel chaired by Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney of Sussex Police.
PC Bowditch was found guilty of two charges in relation to breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour including honesty and integrity, discreditable conduct and challenging and reporting improper conduct.
PS Hughes was found guilty of one charge in relation to breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour including honesty and integrity, discreditable conduct and challenging and reporting improper conduct.
The panel heard that PC Bowditch entered into a relationship with a vulnerable woman, who he had previously met in his professional capacity on 22 July 2013.
PC Bowditch and PS Hughes then conspired together to advance false evidence to defend or mitigate PC Bowditch’s inappropriate relationship.
Both officers, who were based at Poole police station, were suspended from duty while the investigation took place.
The four-day hearing took place at Dorset Police Headquarters in Winfrith, and concluded on Thursday 10 December 2015.
The panel was made up of independent panel members DCC Pinkney, Detective Superintendent Ken Lamont of Devon and Cornwall Police and lay member Mr John Rickard. Neither officer attended at any stage of the hearing.
Finding both officers guilty of gross misconduct, chair DCC Pinkney, said: “These officers’ behaviour has fallen woefully short of the standards which British policing expects and which the public deserve.
“The panel comprised officers and an independent member from outside Dorset.”
Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan, of Dorset Police, said: “Firstly, I would like to thank the witnesses for their bravery in supporting the prosecution.
“PC Bowditch was a frontline officer working in a position of trust. His conduct was completely at odds with the values of Dorset Police and he has let down the public, his colleagues and the wider police service.
“PS Hughes conspired with his colleague to cover up this inappropriate relationship and his failure to report this conduct has resulted in his dismissal.
“Our officers are duty bound to adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity at all times. I hope this result sends out a clear message to our officers, staff and to the public that we take such misconduct very seriously and we will fully and robustly investigate such allegations into corrupt behaviour.
“We are committed to protecting vulnerable people and increasing public confidence in Dorset Police.
“Finally, I would like to thank the panel for taking the time to hear the case and come to their conclusion.”