Police officer dismissed for ‘abuse of position’ over sexual relationship
A police officer has been dismissed for “abuse of his position” over a sexual relationship with a woman he knew to be vulnerable.
It comes after an investigation by the Police Ombudsman found that the officer had “demonstrated exploitative behaviour” after calling at the woman’s home in response to a report of concern for her safety.
The woman involved, who had been recorded on police systems as being in a vulnerable state of mind, said she believed she had been targeted due to that vulnerability and “used” by the officer.
The officer claimed to have met the woman via a dating app, and said the relationship had ended before he met her through his police duties.
However, the Ombudman’s office said this was contradicted by evidence obtained from the officer’s personal mobile phone which showed contact between them only after he had attended the call at her home.
The PSNI accepted a Police Ombudsman recommendation that the allegations against the officer should be heard at a misconduct hearing.
After considering the evidence, the misconduct panel ruled that the officer should be immediately dismissed for “gross misconduct”.
Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson said such exploitative behaviour “has no place in policing”.
“This officer was in a position of trust and authority, and the evidence suggests his actions were deliberate, planned and caused psychological distress to a vulnerable woman,” she said.
“This type of exploitative behaviour has no place in policing and the panel’s decision demonstrates that such actions will not be tolerated within the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”
Mrs Anderson said the officer’s account “lacked credibility”.
“I would encourage anyone who believes they have been targeted by a police officer for sexual gain to immediately report it to my office and we will independently investigate,” she said.