Sussex Police officers found to have breached standards of professional behaviour

Three Sussex Police officers - who were involved in a collision with a car while riding motorbikes off duty- have been found to have breached standards of professional behaviour

Three Sussex Police officers - who were involved in a collision with a car while riding motorbikes off duty - have been found to have breached standards of professional behaviour.

PC Alan Harris and PC James Latter - based at Lewes - and PC Ahmet Yapicioz - based at Gatwick - were the subject of accelerated misconduct hearings chaired by the Chief Constable at Sussex Police HQ, Lewes, on Thursday (April 28).

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The three officers were all riding motorbikes while off duty when two of them were involved in a collision with a Ford Fiesta in Chilgrove near Chichester on July 11, 2020.

A former officer was also found to have breached standards of professional behaviour at Thursday's hearing.

They suffered multiple injuries and the driver of the car involved, an 80-year-old man from Chichester, and his passenger suffered minor injuries.

The officers later pleaded guilty at court to charges of dangerous driving and driving at a speed exceeding 60mph and were sentenced earlier this month to nine months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and given an 18-month driving disqualification with extended retest required.

They were also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 costs and victim surcharge.

In respect of the offences, the officers faced two allegations of breaching standards of professional behaviour of discreditable conduct. The allegations were found to be proven and all three officers were formally dismissed from the force, although Latter had resigned just prior to the hearing.

A former officer was also found to have breached standards of professional behaviour at Thursday's hearing.

The Chief Constable heard that former PC Ben Harman (41), who was based at Crawley, had admitted allegations that during his relationship with a woman colleague from July 2018, he sought to control that colleague’s actions and movements.

The hearing heard he threatened and abused her, and otherwise used coercive behaviour, to enforce his control upon her.

This included behaviour such as sending an unreasonable number of messages to her on a daily basis, repeatedly requiring her to provide him with live updates as to her whereabouts and using threats and abuse to her in messages.

Additionally, when off duty, he admitted allegations that he had accessed confidential policing systems for investigations to which he was not assigned, and which were connected to the colleague he was in a relationship with.

His actions were found to have breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour; specifically, the standards of authority, respect and courtesy, duties and responsibilities, confidentiality and discreditable conduct and amounted to gross misconduct.

Mr Harman would have been dismissed from the force, had he not already resigned in March this year.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: "I expect our officers to act with the upmost integrity, and in accordance with the force’s values, the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Professional Behaviour. The actions of these officers fell short of that, and there is no place in Sussex Police for such behaviour.

“I am extremely proud of the staff, officers and volunteers working for Sussex Police. The unacceptable conduct that has been heard today will not be tolerated. This poor behaviour should not overshadow the hard work of others.”

An accelerated misconduct hearing is held when there is incontrovertible evidence and it is in the public interest to remove the officer from service as soon as possible, or in the case of an ex-officer, to have them placed on the barred list.

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