A police officer has been dismissed from her force after she attended a house party during lockdown and then later the same night crashed her car while drunk.
Pc Tasia Stephens, 24, was also placed on the barred list preventing her from working elsewhere in the profession after her actions were said to have the potential to undermine confidence in the police.The hearing was told Stephens - who was on her probation period with South Wales Police - had dealt with her first "sudden death episode" that day and wanted company in April last year. She drank wine with three family members after being invited to the gathering at her aunt's house just weeks into the first national lockdown.
Pc Stephens' representative had argued she had been "distressed" after recently dealing with the death while on duty, and visited her aunt's home on the evening of Saturday April 25 last year to seek help processing it, where she was also then told of historic sexual allegations against a family member.A police misconduct hearing was told by going to the party she had broken the 'Stay Home' laws that she was supposed to enforce.But misconduct panel chair Susan Ridge said, "Your conduct was very serious. You were aware that you were drinking but, upon arriving home, you took the decision to drive for two miles before colliding with a wall."You drove knowing you had been drinking and such conduct is likely to undermine public confidence in policing."You gave no regard for the obvious risks of driving while under the influence of alcohol."You drove your car for a short distance. You were stopped by your colleagues and spoke to a number of them."You could have taken that opportunity to consider your actions but you chose to drive on."
Ms Ridge added, "You decided you wanted some company, you took some wine, you drank some wine there."We are satisfied that it was your decision to drink alcohol on a sociable evening which led to your acts that night."We concluded that your misconduct was very serious."Stephens was walked home from the party on her street in Treorchy, South Wales.After arriving home she picked up her car keys and went driving - but crashed into a house less than two miles from her home.She was breathalysed and found to have 90mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath - the legal limit is 35mg.Case presenter Barney Branston said, "The decision to attend the party was taken in advance of any alcohol passing her lips."It was fundamentally wrong and so serious that immediate dismissal is justified."Discredit is brought by making that decision to drive having been drinking."If you are a serving police officer to then in wilful ignorance decide to get behind the wheel, not just for 200m but for two miles, is very clearly over the line and into the red zone of gross misconduct."A serving officer, guilty of drink driving in a public court, can only bring discredit on the police force to the detriment of public confidence."The hearing held in Pencoed, near Bridgend, south Wales was told Stephens was stopped by her colleagues who recognised her "distinctive car" just minutes into her drive.The officers didn't realise she was drunk and let her go - but 1.6 miles later Stephens collided with a building in Gelli, Rhondda.
On July 10 last year she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and banned from driving for 15 months.
Pc Stephens told the misconduct hearing she accepted attending the house party, driving when unfit, and being convicted in court.
She also accepted each of the allegations amounts to discreditable conduct, and also amounted to gross misconduct, with the panel later reaching the same conclusion.
Pc Stephens was also placed on the police barred list, which will prevent her from joining a police force again, but has the right to appeal.