A police officer who described searching women as ‘good fun’, mocked a dementia sufferer and posted crime scene photos has been sacked.
PC William Pope, from Canterbury, Kent, shared a string of messages with friends on a WhatsApp group called ‘Call of Duty Season Pass’ over the course of eight months.
In one instance he sent an image of a crashed car in the city centre followed by the crying with laughter emoji and in another he took a selfie pretending to be smoking cannabis at a drugs’ farm.
On a separate occasion, after a car plunged off a cliff following a police chase in Ramsgate, Pope shared a local newspaper article about the incident with his friends before adding: ‘Well that pursuit went well.’
He has now been dismissed by Kent Police after a two-day hearing for sending the ‘unprofessional’ and ‘troubling’ messages.
PC Pope, who is in his early 30s, continually shared messages that directly related to cases he was working on.
His actions, which he admitted were ‘naive and silly’, were deemed to constitute gross misconduct following a probe by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) panel.
The constable’s messages were discovered when another member of the chat group had his phone searched as part of a separate criminal investigation.
Eleven of the 18 allegations against PC Pope were proven at a two-day hearing at Kent Police headquarters this week.
The constable claimed he was lonely and wanted to impress friends he played the video game Call of Duty with.
But he was given his marching orders and fired from the force despite insisting to the panel he had learned from his mistakes.
The panel was told PC Pope had first started sending the posts in the summer of 2018 when he had just joined the force’s Canterbury unit and was on probation.
None of the recipients of the WhatsApp messages were fellow police officers and confidential information had been shared with the group’s members numerous times, the hearing heard.
In one of the early messages, sent in July 2018, PC Pope wrote in the group: ‘Done searching females too. Dirty b*****s hiding them under their boobs. Good fun searching thou x.’
The inappropriate message was referring to a training exercise he had recently completed.
Later, PC Pope was said to have been ‘indiscreet in the extreme’ by revealing police tactics of an undercover mission when he posted: ‘Serving a warrant to nick three guys tomorrow morning, ha ha.’
He also shared a picture of door-opening equipment which was to be used in the operation, accompanied by a message stating: ‘Got my rabbit hidden so can bust down door if don’t open, so excited, countdown time in the van waiting.’
In February last year, when at a cannabis factory, he sent a photo of himself in uniform from the crime scene mimicking smoking a joint.
He messaged the group saying ‘getting high asf’ and ‘I got munchies u guys on later heading home stoned now’.
In the same month, Pope admitted mocking a man with dementia when he sent a screenshot of a file titled Invaded by Army of Ants – relating to an elderly man who had called for police assistance due to ants running around his ankles.
A separate message, sent on an unknown date, saw the disgraced PC write: ‘I’ve just been in the f****** cold sea pull a women out. Time get some dry clothes…. Herne bay. She been taken away hypo thermos off her nut on drugs’.
He had also seemingly boasted about apprehending a vulnerable transgender suspect who was having mental health problems.
The message to the group that read, ‘u would of loved my spear tackle I did, crazy suicidal knife wielding albino tranny’, was deemed by the IOPC to be ‘highly inappropriate and very troubling’.
Speaking at the hearing, before the panel deliberated on his fate, PC Pope apologised for his actions.
He said: ‘This is a job that I love and I really passionately enjoy it. I’ve regretted what I did every day for the last 13 months and I’ve treated every day as my last as I enjoy what I do.
‘I’m really sorry to the whole of Kent Police that I’ve brought this upon them.’
Richard Atchley, defending the constable, said how PC Pope had no partner at the time and had not yet built up relationships with colleagues at the force – therefore the only way to share his new experiences was with his friends over WhatsApp.
He told the hearing: ‘He was over-excited about work and was trying to impress his friends.’
Mr Atchley argued that PC Pope – despite having sat through Kent Police’s data safety lessons – did not receive sufficient tuition on the dangers of WhatsApp and as a result ‘misbehaved in a way in which he thought was alright’.
The IOPC rebutted that claim, saying they found it difficult to accept ignorance or naivety as a defence.
‘All of this should have been entirely foreseeable to an officer regardless of their length of service or seniority’, the panel said.
After his messages were discovered by the authorities, PC Pope enrolled on a social media course, but his actions were deemed so severe that dismissal was the only option.
Speaking after the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Keith Roberts welcomed the probe and criticised the former constable’s actions.
He said: ‘PC Pope chose to post a series of misjudged and inappropriate messages to people on a private social media group.
‘The public has every right to expect all Kent Police officers and staff adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and his conduct fell well short of what was expected of him.
‘It is entirely appropriate that he has been held to account and put before an independent chair, who has determined a proportionate course of action.’
PC Pope has now been dismissed for sending the string of ‘unprofessional’ and ‘troubling’ messages over the course of eight months.