Following a public hearing, two Dorset Police officers were found to have committed gross misconduct and dismissed without notice.
Police Constable’s Hannah White and Jamie Woodfine were subject to a misconduct hearing following their failure to arrest a man in breach of a court order, as well as recording an inaccurate report.
A panel, led by an independent legally qualified chair, determined on Tuesday 14 January that both officers had breached the professional standards as alleged.
PC White did not attend the hearing and has since resigned from the force. The panel ruled that had she would have been dismissed without notice had she not left on her own accord.
PC Woodfine was dismissed without notice.
The incident in question occurred on Monday 25 June 2018, when the officers were dispatched to an address in Poole to carry out a welfare check on a woman following a call from a member of the public who reported an alleged breach of a court order.
Upon arrival, they discovered the woman with a man who was prevented from contacting her and from being at the address by the conditions of a non-molestation order. The man was liable to be arrested if found in breach of the order.
However, according to Dorset Police, the officers made the decision not to arrest the man after speaking with the two at the address.
we will take action against officers who fail to maintain the high standards that we set”
They believed that there was no risk to the woman. The police log report following the officer’s attendance at the address was updated by PC White with false and inaccurate information. It recorded that the man was not present at the address.
Following the hearing, Deputy Chief Constable David Lewis said: “Our officers have to adhere to the highest standards of professional behaviour, in particular their honesty and integrity must be beyond reproach. As a force we are committed to the protection and safeguarding of vulnerable people and in this case the officers failed to comply with the force’s domestic abuse investigation policy and procedure and knowingly caused an inaccurate log entry of the incident to be recorded.
“I agree with the panel’s view that the officers’ actions amounted to gross misconduct and were sufficient to warrant dismissal.
“I hope this case demonstrates that we will take action against officers who fail to maintain the high standards that we set and what is expected of them when carrying out their duties in serving and protecting the public.”
What is a non-molestation order?
A Non-molestation Order is a civil order obtained by a victim of domestic abuse. If granted, it prohibits the abuser from ‘molesting’ the victim.
The term molestation can include, but is not limited to:
- Physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse
- Coercive and controlling behaviour, intimidating behaviour and harassment.
- The abuse can be once or over a sustained period of time.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the police recorded 746,219 domestic abuse-related crimes in the year ending March 2019, an increase of 24% from the previous year.
Source: Women’s Aid and Gov.uk.