APCC welcomes results of police week of action targeting county lines drugs supply operations

From: Association of Police and Crime Commissioners
Published: Thu Mar 21 2024

Two Gwent Police officers and one former officer will face gross misconduct proceedings following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the sharing of offensive WhatsApp messages.

Our investigation began after we received a conduct referral from Gwent Police in November 2022, relating to derogatory and inappropriate messages which were found on the phone of deceased former officer, Ricky Jones. The scope of our investigation examined the conduct of now seven serving and four former officers.

Since the end of our investigation in October 2023, we have determined that two serving constables and one former constable had a case to answer for gross misconduct, for exchanging messages which were of a racist, misogynistic and homophobic nature. In addition, we found evidence that the same officers potentially failed to challenge or report inappropriate messages sent by colleagues. The three officers will face gross misconduct hearings later this year, which will be arranged by the force.

For a further four serving officers, up to inspector rank, we found a case to answer at the level of misconduct. Last month, Gwent Police held misconduct meetings for three of the officers for allegedly failing to challenge and report inappropriate messages sent by colleagues. The case was proven for two officers, who were sanctioned with a written a warning. For a third officer, misconduct was not proven and they will take part in reflective practice. A misconduct meeting also took place for a fourth officer, who was not investigated for offensive messages, but was alleged to have provided confidential police information to a member of the public. Misconduct was proven and the officer received a written warning. This officer had previously been advised they were under criminal investigation, but we found their conduct did not meet the threshold for a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service.

In respect of another serving officer, as a result of our enquiries, we withdrew our criminal and gross misconduct investigation over the alleged unauthorised disclosure of police information.

There will not be any further action in relation to three more former officers. Two officers resigned from the force while being investigated for misconduct only, and we therefore have no jurisdiction to reach a decision as to whether they have a case to answer. Another former officer, against whom we considered there was an indication of gross misconduct, left the force several years prior to the start of our investigation which means, under the regulations, we cannot make a decision on a case to answer for them.

During the course of our enquiries, we carried out a digital forensic examination of Mr Jones' phone, which led to the download and analysis of a considerable number of messages exchanged on WhatsApp between Mr Jones and several of his former colleagues. We obtained statements and interviewed individual officers.

IOPC Director David Ford: “The content of some of the messages we examined raised serious concerns about the conduct of those police officers involved.

“We did not find any evidence to substantiate an allegation that Gwent Police tried to cover up inappropriate messages, which might have indicated corruption. The evidence showed that the searches police carried out on Ricky Jones' phone were reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances at the time.”

We have shared our decisions with Ricky Jones' family.

Wiltshire Police are continuing to separately investigate complaints made by the family of Ricky Jones which focus on Gwent Police's handling of its investigation into his death and the contact officers had with them.

Company: Association of Police and Crime Commissioners

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