An “exceptional” new police officer has kept her job despite urinating in a clothes shop fitting room while drunk off-duty and then lying about it.
A disciplinary panel found probationer PC Amelia Shearer guilty of gross misconduct following the incident in the York branch of Urban Outfitters last September and issued her with a final written warning.
The retailer paid £492 to have the cubicle professionally cleaned and the store’s nine fitting rooms had to be closed afterwards, the hearing at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium heard.
The panel’s legally qualified chair, Ogheneruona Iguyovwe, said allegations of discreditable conduct and breaches of honesty and integrity were proven.
But after deliberating for several hours on Wednesday afternoon (24 August), the panel pulled back from ruling she should be fired immediately.
Ms Iguyovwe said: “She is 24 years old. There is scope for her to be rehabilitated, there is scope for her to set the record straight and to begin on a new path.”
During the three-day hearing the Middlesbrough-based officer strenuously denied the allegations that she urinated in the store and that she lied to her boss afterwards.
In less than four hours, she and a friend had a bottomless brunch at a bar, downing half a bottle of Prosecco and three cocktails, then she had a Jack Daniels and Coke at another venue, before going to Urban Outfitters.
A member of staff gave evidence to say PC Shearer asked if the store had toilets, was told “no”, but immediately went into a cubicle without any clothes to try on.
The employee radioed for his manager and when the officer came out, he and his boss saw a pool of what smelled like urine on the floor, and she hurriedly left the shop but was tracked down in the city later by police.
She denied urinating but did acknowledge she and her friend were “loud and giggly”.
She claimed to have used the changing rooms to adjust her bra – an account she did not give her superior, Inspector Christian Duree, when she spoke to him the next day on the phone.
PC Shearer explained that she only gave him an “abridged version” of events, but the force accused her of lying to him, and in subsequent formal interviews and the panel agreed.
Giving evidence on Tuesday, Inspector Duree said: “She deals with members of the public exceptionally well.
“Her performance as a probationer was excellent.”
The panel at the hearing accepted her force’s submission that her culpability had been high, and that her actions harmed the public’s confidence in policing.
The officer, who joined Cleveland Police as a junior in November 2019 and had been praised for her performance since then, had numerous opportunities in interviews to come clean about what happened, the panel said.
And while she was under investigation for criminal damage – a charge the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to take to court – she lied under caution, the panel found.
Nevertheless, she will keep her job but the outcome of a final written warning, lasting for five years, was a serious sanction, Ms Iguyovwe said.
PC Shearer, who studied a Masters in criminal investigations before achieving her childhood dream of joining the force, wept when she heard the outcome.
Before the decision was made, Olivia Checa-Dover, representing the force, told the panel its findings that the probationer had been dishonest meant she was now “undeployable” as an officer.
As she lied while being questioned on oath about what happened at the store, that would have to be disclosed to defence lawyers in any future investigations she carried out, the barrister said.
Janet Smith, for PC Shearer, had urged the panel to take the unusual step of not immediately sacking her given her good references, including comments from her inspector about her progress during her first year where he described her as “spot-on”.
Ms Smith said: “She has the potential to be exceptional.
“There is a place for her in Cleveland Police and there is the potential for her to flourish in this police force with the appropriate guidance.”
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