A former Nottinghamshire Police drugs expert who sold equipment commonly used for growing cannabis on eBay, was today (Tuesday 5 January) found guilty of gross misconduct. The outcome follows an investigation carried out by the force under the direction of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
A disciplinary hearing organised by the force, and chaired by Chief Constable Craig Guildford, found that Police Constable Stuart Clarke would have been dismissed had he still been serving. The officer, who resigned in November while under investigation, will now be placed on a list barring him from future employment within the police service.
The investigation began last October (2020) after a routine vetting check revealed that PC Clarke, a force drugs expert for the past ten years, had been selling hydroponic items which can be used for cultivating cannabis. It was discovered that he had sold more than 140 such items, for sums totalling £10,825, between January 2019 and September last year using his personal eBay account.
He was arrested in November on suspicion of having stolen equipment seized by police from cannabis grows but told investigators he had bought it all legitimately from car boot sales. The investigation found no indication of criminal conduct and the officer was later released without charge.
However, the force agreed with our finding there was a case to answer for gross misconduct. The disciplinary panel determined that as a police drugs expert his behaviour would cause embarrassment to the force and amounted to discreditable conduct.
IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan said: “For a police officer to sell such quantities of hydroponic equipment knowing its potential for criminal use was clearly inappropriate and a breach of professional standards, and even more so in Stuart Clarke’s case given his specialist knowledge and the role he carried out in the anti drugs unit. Such activities undermine public confidence in policing and he has paid a heavy price for that.
“The panel’s decision shows that such behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The force has implemented recommendations in the investigation report aimed at improving administrative processes within the cannabis dismantling unit.
- Stats since 1st January 2022
7 Misconduct Hearings
86% held in public