A former North Yorkshire Police officer, who had sexual physical contact and sent inappropriate photos of a sexual nature to a member of the public he met while on duty, would have been dismissed without notice if he had not already resigned, a police disciplinary panel has ruled.
Following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), an independently chaired panel found gross misconduct proven against former PC Christopher Bolton, who was based in York. The Standards breached were Discreditable Conduct, Authority, Respect & Courtesy, Honesty & Integrity and Duties & Responsibilities.
A one-day hearing organised by the force concluded on Tuesday 11 January, when the officer was found to have abused his position for a sexual purpose gain and submitted a falsely inflated risk assessment document with the intention of benefitting the member of the public.
After attending a report of a civil dispute, PC Bolton attended the individual’s address on two occasions on the same day. It was found proven that on the second occasion he had some sexual contact with them. He then went onto exchange messages via WhatsApp, in which he sent an image of a sexual nature.
During the first encounter at the house, the former officer had a conversation with the member of the public in which he offered to liaise with a council department on their behalf. It was found that he had then submitted a document to that department, containing a falsely inflated risk assessment.
As part of our investigation, investigators analysed mobile phones, including WhatsApp messages, and we interviewed both the officer and the member of the public involved.
Although PC Bolton voluntarily offered details of his contact with the member of the public, we found evidence that he sought to conceal his wrongdoing by deleting correspondence on his mobile and requesting that they did the same.
We started our independent investigation in November 2020 after receiving a conduct referral from the force and concluded, in April 2021, that PC Bolton should face gross misconduct proceedings.
Miranda Biddle, Regional Director for the IOPC, said: “Police officers are held to high standards when it comes to their interactions with members of the public and they are expected to conduct themselves professionally.
“PC Bolton abused his position and took advantage of a member of the public he knew was in a vulnerable position. In doing so, he breached the police standards of professional behaviour, betrayed their trust and risked seriously undermining public confidence.
“The verdict sends a clear message that this behaviour has no part in policing and he will now be barred from working for the police in future.”