I recently came across the case of PC Roscoe, a serving Greater Manchester Police Officer. Whilst on duty, he entered a woman’s house by consent, but then, after telling her she was ‘absolutely gorgeous’, tried to kiss her. She immediately said ‘no, no, no, no’ and wagged her forefinger at him. She was shocked by his behaviour ‘as he had definitely crossed the line’. In the circumstances, the woman reported him and the case was referred to the IOPC for investigation.
PC Roscoe denied that the incident happened but a misconduct hearing found that the officer had acted as the woman alleged and that such behaviour was gross misconduct. Surprisingly, however, PC Roscoe was not dismissed, and instead was given a final written warning. A spokesman for the IOPC stated something that must be manifestly obvious to all but a few serving Police Officers, “Police Officers must not abuse their position to make unwarranted approaches to people for their personal gain”.
The case has striking similarities to a case that I have recently concluded for my client, Karen.
Back in May 2016, Karen’s friend’s 13 year old son had gone missing and turned up at Karen’s home address.
In the early hours of the next morning, PC Campbell attended Karen’s home address so as to check on the child’s welfare. Karen invited PC Campbell in. Karen was asked for and provided her personal details including her mobile phone number. PC Campbell did not seem too concerned about the child and instead began flirting with Karen, for example asking how she would respond if he asked her out. Karen did not engage.
Karen then showed PC Campbell out. As Karen opened the door, PC Campbell turned and stood with his back against the door and asked Karen ‘for a kiss’. PC Campbell then leant towards Karen. Karen pulled away but the hallway was very narrow and Karen felt trapped/cornered. Karen was both intimidated and shocked and embarrassed because the child was stood behind watching. PC Campbell then left. Karen was very concerned that PC Campbell might seek to return.
Approximately 10 minutes later, Karen received the first of a series of withheld calls to her mobile number to which she did not pick up. Sometime later, the child looked out the window and noticed that PC Campbell was sat in a patrol car outside the house. Karen’s phone rang again and this time Karen answered. It was PC Campbell. PC Campbell advised that he was calling to check he had the right number. Karen confirmed it was. Karen subsequently noted that PC Campbell had driven off.
Sometime later, PC Campbell rang Karen again and advised that he would have to return to see her again to complete some paperwork. Although unhappy, Karen felt she had no option but to cooperate. Karen asked the child to stay with her until PC Campbell had returned and left again.
Approximately one hour later, PC Campbell returned to Karen’s home address. Although Karen felt worried she felt she had no choice but to allow him in. PC Campbell asked several questions and completed some paperwork. Once again PC Campbell sought to flirt with Karen and said “Are you sure you won’t change your mind?” Once again, Karen did not engage.
After a few minutes, PC Campbell got up to leave. Karen showed him out. On this occasion, PC Campbell stepped out but then put his foot over the threshold so as to prevent Karen from closing the door. Again, PC Campbell leant forwards towards Karen and sought to kiss her. Again, Karen pulled away. PC Campbell then stepped away and Karen shut and locked the door. Again, Karen was scared and intimidated and concerned as to what the Officer might try next.
Later that same day, and across the course of several days thereafter, Karen received a series of suggestive and flirtatious text messages from PC Campbell.
Karen found PC Campbell’s behaviour to be disturbing and inappropriate. Approximately 2 weeks later, Karen spoke to officers in regards to an unrelated matter. During this encounter, Karen said in an off the cuff remark, “At least you’re not trying it on”. Karen was encouraged to explain her remark and she explained what PC Campbell had done. At the time, Karen was in a vulnerable state. Furthermore, she was concerned that if she reported PC Campbell, her complaint would be dismissed and he would retaliate against her. Initially therefore, Karen refused to cooperate with the Police investigation. Notwithstanding Karen’s position, PC Campbell was then arrested for misconduct in public office. Karen was encouraged to cooperate with the formal investigation into PC Campbell and given various assurances as regards safeguarding and being kept updated.
Karen was extremely upset and traumatised by PC Campbell’s behaviour and as a result had lost trust and confidence in the police. After significant pressure to cooperate was levied, Karen did eventually provide a witness statement.
Disciplinary proceedings were brought against PC Campbell who in September 2017 was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed.
I subsequently brought a claim against the Merseyside Police Force. Although liability was neither admitted nor denied, I was after negotiation able to agree a settlement of £10,000.00 in compensation for PC Campbell’s outrageous and sexually intimidating conduct towards Karen.
Do Police Officers really need their disciplinary watchdog, the IOPC, to spell out in black and white that they should not use the ‘opportunities’ presented by their job to try to pursue women into kissing them (at the very least)? The examples of PC Roscoe and PC Campbell show that sadly they do.