Officer who cut off trainees’ earrings guilty of gross misconduct

A Dorset Police officer who cut off the earrings of three student officers before they could take part in fitness and safety training has been found guilty of gross misconduct.

Apr 22, 2024
By Paul Jacques

The three student officers believed PC Martin Briggs had used bolt croppers to remove the earrings, but during the misconduct hearing it was established that “smaller snippers” were actually used.

Dorset Police said it expected officers to “demonstrate impeccable standards of behaviour and respect” to new student officers as they begin their policing journey.

While it was accepted by the misconduct panel that the bolt croppers “could not physically have been used”, it found that the students honestly thought they were and that PC Briggs had taken them with the intention of the students believing they were to be used.

Following a public misconduct hearing at Dorset Police Headquarters in Winfrith, which concluded on Friday (April 19) , the panel found that PC Briggs, who was working within the force’s Operational Training Unit, had breached the standards of professional behaviour relating to Authority, Respect and Courtesy and Discreditable Conduct and was guilty of gross misconduct. He was issued with a final written warning that will be in place for five years.

His colleague PC Samuel Davies was also found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour relating to Respect and Courtesy, Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct and Discreditable Conduct. The panel found these breaches amounted to misconduct and he was issued with a written warning that will remain in place for 18 months.

The allegations centred on an incident, which took place in April last year when a group of student officers attended headquarters to undertake the Job-Related Fitness Test.

PC Briggs identified some students who needed to remove their jewellery prior to completing the test.

However, three were unable to remove their earrings and informed PC Briggs who left to collect a snipper-type tool to cut the piercings, along with a pair of bolt croppers that had a loose screw and needed tightening.

PC Briggs asked PC Davies to go into the office and the three student officers were called in one by one to have their piercings removed.

All three student officers believe that PC Briggs used the large bolt croppers to remove their piercings, but both PC Briggs and PC Davies state that the smaller snippers were used and they were under the impression the student officers had consented.

The panel found that the students had not given free and genuine consent but had submitted.

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Farrell said: “I was saddened to hear about this incident involving the very team of officers who are expected to demonstrate impeccable standards of behaviour and respect to our new student officers as they begin their policing journey with us.

“Their actions on that day fell below the standards expected of anyone working within Dorset Police and the outcomes delivered by the panel reflect the seriousness of this.

“The panel found that there was confusion over the dress code policy for officers taking part in the Job-Related Fitness Test and since this incident we have already reviewed our policies and training joining instructions so it is made very clear to officers that no jewellery or piercings must be worn.

“Tackling unethical or unacceptable behaviour remains a force priority and I would encourage members of the public to report them to the force so they can be thoroughly investigated.”

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