A former Cambridgeshire Police officer would have been dismissed from the force without notice for abusing his position for a sexual purpose had he still been serving, a misconduct panel found yesterday (6 October). The ruling followed an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
At the conclusion of a two-day hearing, an independently chaired panel found gross misconduct proven against former police constable Michael Latimer for abusing his position to obtain confidential information about three women who were in vulnerable positions, which he then used in order to engage in sexually inappropriate behaviour between January and April 2020.
The panel, led by an independent legally qualified chair, found the former officer’s actions breached police professional behaviour standards relating to integrity, authority respect and courtesy, orders and instructions, confidentiality, and discreditable conduct.
Former PC Latimer, who did not attend the hearing, resigned from the force in 2020 during our investigation. The panel heard how in each case he began contacting and exchanging flirtatious or sexualised messages with the women, who have been granted anonymity, after they had been victims of crime. Two of the women were victims of domestic abuse. Prior to the hearing, former PC Latimer accepted having abused his position with respect to one of the women and that he exchanged sexualised messages with another. He maintained his contact with the third woman was innocent. However, the woman said she felt preyed upon by his actions.
IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said:
“By contacting vulnerable women, two of whom were victims of domestic abuse, for a sexual purpose after he had accessed confidential information about them, former PC Latimer abused the trust and power placed in him as a police officer. Inappropriate behaviour such as this has no place in policing and damages the public’s trust and confidence in policing. The panel decided he would have been dismissed with immediate effect had he still been serving and officers who chose to abuse their position and engage in this type of conduct should expect to face serious consequences.
“He will now be placed on the police barred list meaning he can no longer be employed by the police service.”
We began our investigation in May 2020 following a conduct referral from the force. Investigators secured evidence from the former officer’s work and personal phone, took witness statements and interviewed him under criminal and misconduct caution. In June 2021 we concluded our investigation and we found the former officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct. We also referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who decided to take no further action.