Sussex police officer investigated for misconduct after inquiry linked to Wayne Couzens

A Sussex police officer was investigated for alleged conduct as part of a social media inquiry linked to Wayne Couzens.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 6:23 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd October 2021, 6:34 pm

A Sussex police officer has been investigated for alleged breaches of conduct and failure to properly challenge inappropriate behaviour, The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said.

Although misconduct for the officer was not proven, senior officials determined that the officer should undergo a reflective practice review process following the incident.

The investigation came about after staff at the IOPC were warned about 'the inappropriate use of social media by officers based on a number of cases involving the posting of offensive and inappropriate material.'

A Sussex police officer has been investigated for allegations of misconduct

The warning led to two investigations involving a total of five police officers from different forces around the country. In the first investigation, IOPC officers followed allegations that a probationary constable shared an 'inappropriate graphic' which depicted 'violence against women' with colleagues via WhatsApp.

The graphic was intended to be a reference to the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer and the probationary constable responsible for sharing it, it was found, went on to staff a cordon as part of the search for Ms Everard.

A spokesperson for the IOPC called the image 'highly offensive', explaining that the constable will now have to answer for allegations of breaching standards of professional behaviour. A second officer who, though they thought the graphic was inappropriate, sent it to two other colleagues to ask for advice, will also have to face a 'reflective practice review'.

In a second, follow-up investigation, IOPC investigators launched into inquiry into allegations regarding the use of of the SIGNAL messaging platform to share information related to Wayne Couzens' prosecution.

It was alleged that, on March 13, a Dorset police officer posted details of an interview given by Couzens in a non-reportable court hearing. This was several months before Couzen admitted to murdering Ms Everard.

IPOC officers decided the messages, had they found their way into the public domain, would have discredited the police service and 'potentially interfered with the course of justice.'

The Sussex police officer was investigated as part of this second investigation. Alongside him is an officer from Avon and Somerset, who will face a misconduct meeting 'in due course'.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: "The allegations involved in these two investigations, if proven have the capacity to further undermine public confidence in policing. They also once more illustrate the potential consequences for officers and come at a time when policing standards and culture have never been more firmly in the spotlight."