Sussex officer given written warning for misuse of police computer systems

A Sussex Police officer has been given a written warning after a disciplinary hearing was told he used police computer systems to access records relating to a woman he met during the course of his work.

The hearing was organised by the force following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and concluded on Tuesday (22 February).

Misconduct was found proven for the officer, who was granted anonymity by the chair of the disciplinary panel, which ruled he had breached the standards of professional behaviour for confidentiality.

The IOPC’s seven-month investigation followed a referral from Sussex Police in May 2020 and looked at allegations that the officer had formed an inappropriate relationship with a woman and failed to declare it to his superiors. This allegation was not proven.

The officer came into contact with the woman while investigating a theft she reported in 2017. Evidence we gathered indicated that he had accessed information relating to her on police computer systems in 2018 and four out of the five allegations were proven.

The officer declined to provide an account for the IOPC investigation or to comment when interviewed under caution.

IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “This officer breached Sussex Police policy by accessing its computer systems for a non-policing purpose.

“Actions like this undermine the public’s trust in police officers who should know that it is entirely inappropriate to use police computer systems for personal reasons.”

During our investigation we obtained and examined data from sources including the officer’s work and personal phones, his police radio and work email account. An audit was conducted on his access of police systems and two witnesses were interviewed in relation to the allegations.

 

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