Hampshire officers ‘permitted toxic homophobic culture in police unit’

Two police supervisors bear a “heavy responsibility” for a “toxic” culture in their unit, a misconduct hearing has been told.

Retired Det Insp Tim Ireson and Det Sgt Gregory Willcox had a “permissive” attitude towards racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour, the panel heard.

Investigators bugged the team’s Basingstoke office and analysed messages over a 24-day period in 2018.

Six officers from the Serious Organised Crime Unit deny gross misconduct.

Jason Beer QC, prosecuting, said the accused men “habitually” made offensive remarks about women, black people, immigrants, disabled, gay and transgender people and foreign nationals.

‘Homophobic slurs’

Concluding his case, he said: “These probes did not catch these officers on a bad day… They found three weeks of such behaviours.”

The misconduct hearing, which opened in October, previously heard the team’s only black officer was often a target of the “toxic, abhorrent” abuse.

Mr Beer said Det Insp Ireson was a “weak leader with a permissive attitude towards poor behaviour” while Det Sgt Willcox was a “strong character but a poor leader”.

Addressing some of the charges against each officer, the barrister said Det Sgt Oliver Lage made “highly offensive and racist comments” about his black colleague while PC Andrew Ferguson sent colleagues a fake pornographic image of members of the royal family.

PC James Oldfield made “homophobic slurs” and former PC Craig Bannerman failed to challenge “the most serious” abuse recorded by investigators, Mr Beer added.

Edmund Gritt, defending Willcox, said many of the remarks did not amount to gross misconduct.

He said: “Profanities at work may well be deprecating but unless they’re directed at other people they are not a breach of standards of respect and courtesy.”

Guy Ladenburg, defending Lage, suggested his client was less involved in the abuse than the others.

The six officers have admitted that some of their behaviour amounts to misconduct but is not serious enough to warrant dismissal.

The hearing continues…

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