Four Bedford cops fired for ‘obscene’ jokes about victim of alleged rape

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Four police officers have been sacked for gross misconduct after making crude jokes about a woman who reported she had been raped.

The police constables used “hurtful, derogatory and obscene” language – unaware that the victim herself could hear what they were saying.

A two-day misconduct hearing this week heard how the woman was telephoned from Kempston police HQ during the investigation into her case.

But it is believed the nine minute call had been made by mistake – and all the horrified victim could hear was the officers discussing her case in the background.

She managed to record part of the call and a complaint was lodged.

“Those nine minutes were torture for me... I could not stop crying and shaking. I will never trust the police and I will never ever forgive,” she told the tribunal’s investigating officer.

The four officers are Robin Denton, Matthew Neild, Todd Mills and Deanna Waite. None of them was directly involved in the investigation into the alleged rape and all were suspended immediately.

The investigating officer’s report considered by the hearing stated: “The officers did not consider the negative impact that their actions could potentially have on vulnerable and sex assault victims coming forward.

“The impact of failings like these on public faith in the police could be enormous.

“It’s not difficult to imagine the effect of this discussion on anyone who has had the courage to speak to total strangers and tell them about an (alleged) brutal assault.”

The hearing was presented with a transcript of the officers’ recorded comments about the alleged offence.

Most of the comments are to foul to print, but one was: “I reckon you would, you would, I would give it a go..”

Acting for the victim at the tribunal was specialist legal expert Iain Gould from DPP lawyers.

He told the T&C: “This is a shocking case. The officers involved showed utter disregard for my client’s privacy and dignity, treating her allegations of rape as a subject for lurid banter and titillation.

“The fact that they would do this – even, as they thought in private – shows that none of the officers involved are of fit character to be invested with the special responsibility of being a police constable.”

Mr Gould added; “I absolutely welcome the decision of the force to dismiss them with immediate effect – to have done otherwise would have been to send an awful message, namely that making jokes at the expense of rape victims is a legitimate pastime for officers, and that police culture tolerates misogyny.

“These officers dissected my client’s account of what was done to her, not for any policing purpose but for their own personal gratification. To report any sexual assault, particularly a rape, requires deep personal courage on the part of the victim.

“My client and all others who report such crimes deserve to be treated with quiet professionalism, respect and dignity; not humiliation and contempt.”

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “This is obviously a very sensitive case and there are other ongoing legal proceedings which restricts the amount of information we can release. However, I would say this case clearly shows how seriously we take the behaviour of our officers. I have incredibly high expectations regarding our officers’ behaviour and attitude and in this particular case those expectations were clearly not met.

“As soon as I was made aware of this case I immediately suspended the officers and visited the victim, with Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire. I have apologised to this remarkable and brave young lady and have continued to support her throughout the investigation. I would like to extend my apologies to her again for the anguish and distress this has caused.

“Victims should be at the heart of everything we do at Bedfordshire Police and we will not tolerate any attitude which undermines those values or damages the trust and confidence of those affected by crime.”

The officers involved were not investigating the sexual assault allegation, but a separate matter linked to it when the incident occurred.

Mr Boutcher added: “We work closely with victim groups and partner agencies to protect people and ensure they are given the very best possible care to safeguard them from further harm.

“We have invested a huge amount in restructuring the force, creating the Emerald Team to change the way we deal with victims of domestic abuse and rape, and training is continuing with all officers and staff on recognising signs of vulnerability and ensuring we treat victims with the utmost sensitivity and respect.”

Police & Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “My overwhelming concern and that of the chief constable was the distress this whole abhorrent incident inevitably created for the victim.

“I hold Bedfordshire Police and Chief Constable Jon Boutcher to account and there is absolutely no room whatsoever in this force for any officer who shows disrespect to any victim.

“I would like to reassure the public that the chief constable was understandably concerned and disappointed, as was I, at the actions of these officers and what that represented for the victim. They have not only let her down, but every single one of their colleagues.

“In my view, instant dismissal for gross misconduct was the only possible appropriate outcome for the officers involved.”

“It’s not difficult to imagine the effect of this discussion on anyone who has had the courage to speak to total strangers and tell them about an (alleged) brutal assault.”

The hearing was presented with a transcript of the officers’ recorded comments about the alleged offence.

Most of the comments are to foul to print, but one was: “I reckon you would, you would, I would give it a go.”

Acting for the victim at the tribunal was specialist legal expert Iain Gould from DPP lawyers.

He told the T&C: “This is a shocking case. The officers involved showed utter disregard for my client’s privacy and dignity, treating her allegations of rape as a subject for lurid banter and titillation.

“I absolutely welcome the decision of the force to dismiss them with immediate effect – to have done otherwise would have been to send an awful message, namely that making jokes at the expense of rape victims is a legitimate pastime for officers, and that police culture tolerates misogyny,” he added.

“My client and all others who report such crimes deserve to be treated with quiet professionalism, respect and dignity; not humiliation and contempt.”

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “This case clearly shows how seriously we take the behaviour of our officers. I have incredibly high expectations regarding our officers’ behaviour and attitude and in this particular case those expectations were clearly not met.

“As soon as I was made aware of this case I immediately suspended the officers and visited the victim, with Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire. I have apologised to this remarkable and brave young lady and have continued to support her throughout the investigation. I would like to extend my apologies to her again for the anguish and distress this has caused.

“Victims should be at the heart of everything we do at Bedfordshire Police and we will not tolerate any attitude which undermines those values or damages the trust and confidence.””

Mr Boucher said the officers involved were investigating a separate matter linked to the alleged sex crime.

He has assured all other victims that they will be treated by police with the “utmost sensitivity and respect.”