A Surrey Police officer was given a final written warning after a disciplinary hearing which concluded on 7 January decided he had formed an inappropriate relationship with a woman he had met during the course of his work, who was in a vulnerable position.
The hearing was organised by the force following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Gross misconduct allegations against Police Constable (PC) Kuldip Bhart were found proven by an independently chaired panel which ruled he had breached the standards of professional behaviour for authority, respect and courtesy; duties and responsibilities; and discreditable conduct.
Our six-month investigation, following a referral from Surrey Police in June 2020, looked at allegations that PC Bhart had formed an inappropriate relationship with a victim of crime while he was working for the force’s Safeguarding Investigation Unit. We concluded the officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
It was alleged the officer communicated with the woman on his work phone for no police purpose, sent personal messages which were inappropriate and failed to notify his line manager of the association and personal relationship.
IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “PC Bhart’s actions had the potential to impact on public confidence in the police.
“He claimed he was attempting to provide support for the woman once her case was over, but his actions were not in keeping with the standards expected of a police officer when dealing with victims of crime in the course of their duties.
“Officers receive training designed to ensure they maintain clear professional boundaries with members of the public met through their work and the disciplinary panel’s sanction sends a clear message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
During our investigation accounts were obtained from PC Bhart and the woman, and phone downloads and crime reports were reviewed and analysed.