Watchdog criticises Gwent Police over armed cop who had sex while on duty in Caerphilly
GWENT Police has been criticised by the police watchdog for the way it handled a complaint about a firearms officer who had sex while on duty.
PC Shaun Jenkins was dismissed, and later reinstated by the force following appeal, after they received a complaint he had sex with woman while on armed patrol in Caerphilly in 2010.
An Independent Police Complaints Commission report out today says the manner in which the complaint was handled by Gwent Police was “unacceptable” and their attempts to deal with it outside the formal regulations were “not good enough”.
IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said the two errors were found in the original disciplinary process and said some findings by the Police Appeals Panel, which reinstated PC Jenkins, were surprising and could be seen to undermine public confidence in the credibility of the police discipline system.
PC Jenkins was on armed patrol duties with a colleague in Caerphilly on April 10, 2010, when they stopped and picked up a woman he knew.
They went back to a house he owned in the area and had sex while his colleague waited outside in the patrol car.
The woman's husband made a complaint about PC Jenkins' conduct while he was on duty but the force initially decided it was not a dismissible offence.
A report was then sent to both the complainant and the IPCC, but did not mention the officers were on-duty at the time.
Today’s report says the force went on to breach the complainant's rights by finalising the disciplinary process before he could exercise his right of appeal to the IPCC and gave PC Jenkins a final written warning.
The firearms officer who had waited in the police vehicle for about 40 minutes was also disciplined.
In January 2011, the women’s husband appealed to the IPCC who upheld the appeal and decided the seriousness of PC Jenkins' actions meant it should have been regarded as gross misconduct.
The IPCC directed Gwent Police to hold a misconduct hearing and PC Jenkins was dismissed.
In October 2011, PC Jenkins appealed against his dismissal and a Police Appeal Panel, which was critical of the way the original disciplinary process, reinstated him on 23 April 2012.
The force's head of professional standards was also disciplined and removed from his role for the way this case was dealt with.
Speaking of the investigation, Tom Davies, said: “Any officer having sex on duty is unacceptable behaviour that falls well below what is expected of all police officers. Those who carry firearms are rightly subject to the highest standards of training, procedures and discipline.
"I note and accept the reinstatement of this on-duty firearms officer on the basis stated by the Police Appeals Panel. The Panel also found two errors in the disciplinary process and, with Gwent Police, have ensured that no such procedural error will be repeated. Further I have been reassured by Gwent Police that, after a careful audit, no similar errors were made in other cases to prevent full disciplinary processes being followed.
"The finding of the Police Appeals Panel that the gun was never out of PC Jenkins' direct and immediate control because it was in a holster, attached to his trousers, which were attached to him, albeit around his ankles, is surprising. I am also bemused by the panel's conclusion that his conduct did not significantly downgrade the protection to the public because there was nothing to suggest he could not have been back in the police vehicle within a minute or two.
"These findings can only undermine public confidence in the credibility of the police discipline system."
A Gwent Police spokesman said: “Gwent Police notes and fully accepts the findings of the IPCC report which was critical of the Force’s handling of a complaint against a serving officer.
“Our complaints handling processes have been reviewed and improved as part of our on-going efforts to ensure we provide the best possible service to the public.”
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