Officer dismissed for sharing images of people in custody

An officer who shared images of people in police custody on WhatsApp together with “inappropriate and derogatory comments” has been dismissed.

Jun 5, 2023
By Paul Jacques

PC Owen Davies, of South Yorkshire Police, was dismissed without notice following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into operational images being shared without any policing purpose.

“Our investigation discovered that PC Owen Davies shared images of people in police custody using his personal mobile phone,” said the IOPC.

“He sent them, along with inappropriate and derogatory comments about the individuals, via WhatsApp to current and former colleagues.”

The officer’s personal mobile phone had been examined to identify any “operational policing images or images of concern” as part of a separate investigation into conduct allegations, the IOPC said.

Detailed analysis showed PC Davies had shared images of people who had been detained in a police cell, and in other settings such as a hospital, with colleagues.

The WhatsApp exchanges with officers in the group also showed he made offensive comments about those in the pictures, the IOPC said.

Analysis of PC Davies’s mobile also revealed he had shared personal details about someone who was convicted of a crime; details of a hate crime report; and an image, taken from body-worn video footage, of an officer with an unknown woman.

The IOPC said the officer had completed training by the force on storing and sharing operational policing material so was aware of what was expected of him as an officer.

The IOPC investigation began in November 2020 following a referral from South Yorkshire Police and concluded in February 2022.

“We found the officer may have breached the standards of professional behaviour in respect of his confidentiality, integrity, and conduct,” said the IOPC.

“The force agreed he had a case to answer for gross misconduct and arranged disciplinary proceedings.”

An independently chaired panel  found gross misconduct proven against PC Davies following a three-day hearing, which finished on Friday (June 2).

IOPC Regional Director Emily Barry said: “PC Davies showed appalling judgment and a complete disregard of the policy and procedures in relation to how he shared confidential policing material. It was entirely inappropriate and risked seriously undermining public confidence in the police.

“PC Davies’s decisions to disclose images of suspects connected to serious criminal offences not only breached the applicable policies and procedures but could have undermined ongoing criminal investigations.

“We welcome the panel’s decision, which serves as a reminder that this behaviour is not treated lightly and can result in serious consequences for any officers involved.”

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