Trainee Cleveland Police officer who pushed groin against colleague guilty of gross misconduct

Cleveland Police headquarters
A trainee Cleveland Police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct. Credit: PA Images.

A trainee police constable who pushed his groin against a female colleague during a self-defence class has been found guilty of gross misconduct.

The trainee Cleveland Police officer was found to have behaved inappropriately towards female colleagues on 14 occasions following a misconduct hearing.

Officer A, who cannot be named, was just six weeks into his police training when three female students reported his “sexist, sexual and misogynistic comments”, the hearing in Stockton-on-Tees was told.

On Thursday 24 November, the disciplinary panel found 14 out of 16 allegations against him proved, including the most serious, that he rubbed his groin against a female student during a training exercise.

The woman, known as Witness A, sobbed earlier in the week as she told the hearing she “wanted it to stop” when she felt Officer A push against her, but that other officers thought her protests were part of the role playing and carried on with the exercise.

The panel heard the task involved one officer bending over and protecting their head while colleagues hit them with foam pads.

Witness A told the hearing that while this was happening, she felt Officer A go behind her and push his groin into her bottom as she was bending over.

“Because of the scenario I was in, you’re supposed to be quite vocal and shout back with people,” Witness A said.

“I remember feeling that I just wanted it to stop but they just thought because I was shouting ‘stop’, they thought I was just engaging in the task and they wouldn’t stop.”

Nick Hawkins, who chaired the panel, said: “The panel was satisfied (Witness A) knew it was (Officer A) behind her, and satisfied she knew it was his groin that made contact with her bottom.

“Although no-one else in the exercise saw or heard anything, the panel concluded this didn’t mean nothing untoward happened, but rather the only two people who knew something untoward did happen were Officer A and Witness A.”

The panel also found proved allegations that Officer A had touched Witness A on several occasions by picking her up and carrying her, and trying to put her in a restraint hold.

He was also found to have “sexualised” conversations about primary school teachers and microwave meals, asking one female colleague if she had a “sexy nurse outfit” at home, and another if she was “going to use her handcuffs on her fella when she got home”.

The panel said they believed allegations by other female officers that he had made comments to them had been proved.

Officer A denied all the allegations and said the three women had “launched a campaign of falsehoods against him”.

He denied some of the incidents altogether, and said some of his comments have been “misconstrued” and were meant to be “jokey”, the hearing was told.

But Mr Hawkins said the panel found all three women to be “credible witnesses” and concluded there was “no campaign of falsehood”.

He said it was “unacceptable to behave in a sexualised manner towards your female colleagues, making them feel uncomfortable and humiliated”.

The allegations were “so serious as to justify dismissal and accordingly are gross misconduct”, Mr Hawkins said.

The hearing will resume on Friday with submissions on what sanction the panel should impose.

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