Officers under investigation over offensive WhatsApp messages

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has started a criminal investigation into the conduct of six serving and one former police officer linked to messages shared in a WhatsApp group.

Following referrals from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) and a force in the south west of England, we reviewed messages shared within the group and identified a significant number of those messages to be of a discriminatory, derogatory or pornographic nature.

The officers – five working with the CNC, one former CNC officer now working for another force and one former CNC officer – have been informed they are being criminally investigated for offences under section 127 of the Communications Act, sending grossly offensive messages.

All seven have also been advised they are under investigation for potential gross misconduct.

This does not necessarily mean conduct proceedings or criminal charges will follow and the status of each officer will remain under review throughout the investigation.

IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “The allegations against these officers and a former officer are extremely serious and concerning.

“On conclusion of our investigation we will decide whether the matters should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, whose role it is to determine whether criminal charges will follow.

“As this work is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”