Police face criminal investigation over ‘grossly offensive’ WhatsApp messages


Six serving police officers and a former officer are under criminal investigation for ‘grossly offensive’ WhatsApp messages.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the suspects were all from the Civilian Nuclear Gendarmerie, where Sarah Everard’s killer, Wayne Couzens, previously served.

Five remain with the force, which guards sensitive sites, one has joined a force in the South West of England and another has left the force.

The IOPC Fund said it investigated a WhatsApp group used by officers and “identified a significant number of messages as being of a discriminatory, derogatory or pornographic nature”.

“Officers have been advised that they are under criminal investigation for offenses under Section 127 of the Communications Act, sending grossly offensive messages,” a spokesperson added.

“All seven were also told they were being investigated for potential gross misconduct.”

The investigation was announced weeks after two former civil nuclear police (CND) officers were convicted over messages in a WhatsApp group featuring Couzens.

Jonathon Cobban and Joel Borders had been transferred to the Metropolitan Police along with other CND colleagues in 2019, and the investigation announced on Friday is not related to their case.

The IOPC Fund’s Regional Director, Catherine Bates, described the new allegations as “extremely serious and worrying”.

“At the end of our investigation, we will decide whether the cases should be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, whose role is to determine whether criminal charges will follow,” she added.

It follows several criminal and misconduct cases involving Metropolitan Police officers who sent racist and misogynistic messages.

On Thursday, the force arrested a former officer who now works for the Home Office on suspicion of breaches of the Communications Act and misconduct in public office.

New commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has vowed to be ‘ruthless’ in rooting out racists and misogynists from the ranks of the force, amid two ongoing investigations into his culture and norms.

Priti Patel announces inquiry into Sarah Everard murder

Scotland Yard announced on Friday it was setting up a new Anti-Corruption and Abuse Command to lead efforts to identify racist, misogynistic and abusive officers and staff.

Containing around 100 detectives and officers, the force said the team will be able to use “covert tactics” to identify and investigate those who are “predatory, who abuse their position of trust – for personal gain, financial or sexual – whether on duty, off duty, in person or online”.

The current Metropolitan Police Professional Standards Directorate is also being expanded to strengthen existing anti-corruption capabilities.

Sir Mark said: “In recent years we have seen the corrosive effect that corrupt, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, abusive and criminal officers and staff have had on the levels of trust our communities have in the Met.

“It also undermines our crime-fighting efforts and hampers our ability to investigate crimes. The communities and our honest and determined majority of officers are rightly angry.

“As part of my commitment to renew policing by consent and bring more trust, less crime and high standards to the Met, I am investing in additional officers and staff, skills and technology to root out these officers or corrupt or abusive personnel. ”


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