A police officer who posted TikTok videos, including one containing an “inappropriate commentary” on the coronavirus pandemic, has been given a final written warning.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said a disciplinary panel found gross misconduct proven against Pc Aaron Parry, of Northamptonshire Police.
The watchdog began an independent investigation in May 2020 after a woman complained that inappropriate videos were posted on social media between January 19th and April 8th 2020.
Pc Parry was found to have breached professional standards of behaviour for authority, respect and courtesy.
The IOPC said in a statement: “These included a video in which Pc Parry and a colleague appeared in police uniform and which contained references to a detained person as an ‘illegal immigrant’.
“In another, he and a colleague appeared in police uniform in a police vehicle and the video made inappropriate commentary on the coronavirus pandemic.
“It also contained inappropriate and offensive captions and offensive lyrics in the song Roses by Saint Jhn.”
A further video showed an unidentified man in the passenger seat of an Audi with the caption “drug dealer”.
Police forces have strict policies in place to ensure social media use is not abused by its officers. In the videos Pc Parry identified himself as a police officer in uniform and in a police car, in violation of Northamptonshire Police’s social media policy.
Derek Campbell continues: “Pc Parry claimed a lack of awareness of the relevant policies, but ignorance is no defence. He should have known better and, by coming to its decision, the independent panel has agreed.
“Pc Parry is a person in a position of responsibility and his actions – recording the images while on duty and the inappropriate language used in the videos – negatively impacted on the public’s view of policing in general.”
Another officer, who has not been named, has received a written warning.
The second officer did not have a TikTok account, the IOPC said, but had allowed themselves to be recorded by Pc Parry while on duty and dressed in uniform and was therefore “associated” with “offensive” material.
Commenting after the hearing, Superintendent Natalee Wignall, head of professional standards at Northamptonshire Police, said: “This was wholly unacceptable conduct that had the potential to damage trust and confidence in policing during the particularly challenging early period of the pandemic.
“We took the decision to refer the case at the earliest opportunity, a move which led to the misconduct hearing this week.
“Pc Parry, who up to this point had enjoyed a long and unblemished service record, expressed considerable remorse at the hearing, admitting that while his conduct was immature, he had never intended to cause offence to anyone.
“Since this case came to light, the force has taken further steps to educate officers around the use and misuse of social media and kept its social media policy under constant review.”