Officer guilty of gross misconduct after admitting sex with vulnerable male
An officer with North Wales Police who admitted having sexual contact with a vulnerable male while on duty has been found guilty of gross misconduct.
Police Constable Andrea Griffiths had been appointed as the liaison officer for a middle-aged man, identified only as ‘Mr X’, who had been the victim of historical sexual abuse and suffered from a personality disorder.
The misconduct hearing heard the officer developed a “strong and inappropriate personal bond” with the man during a time when she was experiencing difficulties in her personal life.
PC Griffiths resigned from the force on Monday (December 9) ahead of the hearing at North Wales Police’s headquarters in Colwyn Bay. She declined to appear at the tribunal.
At the start of the hearing her legal representative, Nick Walker, read out a statement on her behalf, which said: “I recognise I shouldn’t have had sexual contact with Mr X… I accept gross misconduct and deeply regret that it happened. To avoid further embarrassment to everyone I have resigned forthwith from North Wales Police.”
The panel heard that Ms Griffiths, who joined the force in 2001, was in a “position of trust” and had “particular knowledge of the vulnerabilities of the complainant”. The officer had tried to hide the relationship with the man by telling him to delete phone messages, but he had trust issues with the police having made complaints about North Wales Police in the past.
The force referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which directed that the investigation was carried out by the force under its supervision.
Chair of the panel, Susan Davies, said: “It would have been abundantly clear Mr X was vulnerable because of his background and mental health difficulties and she shouldn’t have any sexual contact with him.”
“She breached standards of honesty and integrity, specifically integrity. She behaved in way that was discreditable to North Wales Police. We found that conduct so serious that dismissal would be justified and therefore amounts to gross misconduct.”
The panel ruled she would have been dismissed had she not resigned her position.
North Wales Police Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki said: “Society puts great faith in police officers to work with members of the public, often when they are at their most vulnerable. The majority of our officers do a fantastic job of supporting those in need of help and in doing so always strive to retain the trust and confidence of the public.
“Unfortunately, in this rare case, the action of a former police constable breached this trust and fell far below the highest levels of professional behaviour we, and the public, rightly expect from our police officers.
“It is unacceptable to the force that an officer should act in a way that undermines the excellent work of the vast majority of our staff who serve our communities with integrity.”
Steve Noonan of the IOPC added: “Strong evidence was gathered about her inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable member of the public, and the officer admitted gross misconduct and resigned from the force. A scheduled misconduct hearing went ahead in her absence.”
The IOPC confirmed that an application will be made to place Ms Griffiths on the College of Policing ‘barred list’ to stop her from applying for any policing jobs in the future.