PC Aaron Smith Who Said Cocaine ” Crept ” Into His Body Would Have Been Sacked Had He Not Jumped Ship First

I have had the benefit of the papers in advance of today and read them carefully before the Hearing
started. I have listened to the case presented by the Appropriate Authority and have carefully
considered the documentary evidence provided, including:
• The statement from the forensic scientist, at pages 27-31; and
• The forensic test result at pages 19-20.
Former PC Smith did not provide a written response to the allegations, but is present today and has
given an account of the circumstances of cocaine being found in his system. These are that following
a . He turned to
drinking alcohol . Five days before the WCDT he
drank so much that he could not remember the next day what had happened. He believes that on
this occasion cocaine “crept” into his system, to use his word. He believes the operation of ethanol
on the cocaine meant that the usual process of expulsion of drugs from the system was slowed and
therefore the cocaine remained in his body five days later. He expected to be tested for drugs
because he had told his inspector about taking nitrous oxide. He has stated that in his view these
circumstances mean that while he takes responsibility for cocaine being in his system, he did not
take cocaine knowingly and that therefore his behaviour amounts to misconduct.
I find as fact that former PC Smith had the controlled drug cocaine in his system. I believe on the
balance of probabilities that he knowingly and willingly took cocaine at some point before the
WCDT. The reason for the drugs test will have been based on all the factors within his meeting with
Inspector , and maybe other factors, which taken together gave cause for concern to DPS that
he was taking illegal drugs.
I accept former PS Smith’s account that he was suffering from and that he misused alcohol to
cope with this. But cocaine does not “creep” into one’s system, and he has not explained how he
thought it did. The fact that he has not given any account before now of how cocaine was present in
his system adds to my belief that he knowingly took it, knew what he was doing and that it was
wrong.
However drunk he was he would have had to make a positive act of taking cocaine – something that
he will have known at the time was entirely against the law and the Code of Ethics. Drunkenness
cannot be an excuse for law-breaking of this kind.
In having the controlled drug cocaine in his system, I consider that former PC Smith has breached the
Standards of Professional Behaviour in respect of
• Fitness for duty – because given the effects of cocaine described in the statement at page 29,
(i.e. to select a few euphoria, increased confidence, agitation and confusion), he cannot have
been fit to deal with the many scenarios and people presented in a normal policing day; and
• Discreditable Conduct in that his behaviour in taking a controlled drug is likely to discredit
the police service and undermine confidence in it.
I have reminded myself that gross misconduct is a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour
so serious that dismissal would be justified. Applying that definition, I find the matter proven as
gross misconduct. Former PC Smith behaved in the manner described and in so doing put himself,
his colleagues and possibly members of the public at risk. He can have been in no doubt that the use
of cocaine was not acceptable behaviour.
Outcome decision
Having considered the matter fully and having had regards to the nature and severity of the
breaches of the Standards of Professional Behaviour, my decision is that former PC Smith remained a
serving officer he would have been
Dismissed without notice.
I would like to explain my rationale in detail now. The College of Policing Guidance on Outcomes in
Police Misconduct Proceedings is a clear document that sets out the stages of the decision-making
process. I have applied those Guidelines and that process to my decision-making today.
The first stage of deciding on the outcome is to assess the seriousness of the conduct. This covers
the areas of the officer’s culpability, the harm caused and any aggravating or mitigating factors.
The second stage is to keep in mind the purpose of the police misconduct regime. This has three
elements:
• To maintain public confidence in and the reputation of the police service,
• To uphold high standards and deter misconduct, and
• To protect the public.
The police misconduct regime is not designed to punish police officers – it is about the reputation
and standing of the profession as a whole.
The third stage is to choose the outcome that most appropriately fulfils the purpose given the
seriousness of the conduct in question.
I will also consider former PC Smith’s record of service during this decision-making process.
At all times I must be aware of and adhere to human rights and equality legislation. That is, of
course, part of my approach at all times as a police officer.
I have started by assessing the seriousness of the conduct.
In terms of culpability, as I have noted in my finding, however drunk former PC Smith was he would
have had to make a positive act of taking cocaine – something that he will have known at the time
was entirely against the law and the Code of Ethics. Drunkenness cannot be an excuse for lawbreaking of this kind. He will have obtained the cocaine illegally. He was wholly responsible for his
action and his culpability is high.
In terms of harm, as noted in my finding, I have reviewed the effects of cocaine as set out in the
laboratory statement – to name a few, increased confidence, euphoria, agitation and confusion –
and note that former PC Smith cannot have been fit for duty.
The use of controlled drugs is very serious misconduct, with which former PC Smith put himself and
others in physical danger, could have caused great harm to the reputation of the MPS and fuelled a
trade that causes harm and misery to some and criminal profits to others.
I do not find any further aggravating factors.
In terms of mitigation, because former PC Smith has not admitted what he has done, I do not find
the mitigating factors of remorse or acceptance apply. I do accept that he was suffering from
and perhaps but I do not believe that either are mitigating factors that would affect
my decision in this case because his decision to take cocaine was not a natural result of either
I have noted former PC Smith’s very short record of service, which includes mention of concern
about three off duty incidents and I also note that he had been absent through sickness for almost a
month. His BCU Commander would not have been willing to retain him at his BCU. His service
record does not mitigate the gravity of his behaviour.
In taking controlled drugs and reporting for duty with them in his system, former PC Smith
endangered himself, his colleagues and the public. He can have been in no doubt about the
unacceptability of drugs use. He had the choice not to do this but he did not make the right choice.
I have considered the threefold purpose of the police misconduct regime very carefully in
considering whether, had he still been serving, a final written warning could be an appropriate
outcome in this case.
However, as I have explained, this was serious misconduct. It is entirely unacceptable for police
officers, who are responsible for enforcing the law, to break the law themselves. Doing so
undermines public confidence in policing as well as our reputation. The public could not have
confidence in former PC Smith to protect them if he put them into danger in this way. Nor would
they have confidence in the MPS if we appeared not to take drugs-taking by police officers seriously.
And finally, a lesser outcome would not deter others from similar misconduct. And therefore, had
former PC Smith still been a serving officer, nothing less than dismissal would fulfil the purpose of
the police misconduct regime.

Metropolitan Police Service
  • Stats since 1st January 2022
  • 95 Misconduct Hearings
    86% held in public

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS / "the Met") is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in Greater London, excluding the square mile of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police.

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