A police officer has been sacked for slapping the bottoms of two female police officers he worked with.
A police misconduct panel concluded that the behaviour of PC Kevin Wood, of West Yorkshire Police, was “sexist” and amounted to gross misconduct.
Wood, who was based in Leeds and served as a police officer for 20 years, was described as being far more senior than his two colleagues, who were both young with “limited” experience.
The incidents occurred between January 2019 and May 2021 when Mr Wood was on duty, with one happening outside Pudsey police station in Leeds, where it could have been viewed by members of the public.
While the police misconduct panel decided his conduct was not sexually motivated, they stated his behaviour was repeated. The panel reached the conclusion he should be dismissed without notice.
Mr Wood must have been aware his conduct was “highly improper”, given it was “repeatedly” objected to, yet he carried on slapping one of his colleagues, the panel stated.
“There was very limited insight by PC Wood in respect of his gross misconduct, which he sought to inappropriately minimise simply as workplace banter,” the police misconduct panel stated.
His actions were “sexist, demeaning and an intrusion into personal space”, it found, adding: “Sexist, misogynistic behaviour in the workplace is a national concern of society generally. It is a particular concern of police forces who try to combat such behaviour.”
The misconduct panel found his behaviour was so serious “that the only adequate sanction to fulfil the aims, objectives and purposes of the misconduct regime was dismissal without notice”.
“PC Wood’s explanations for his behaviour were unconvincing,” the panel said. “His evidence lacked credibility in a number of respects in terms of his explanations of events and reasons for misconducting himself.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Nicola Bryar, of West Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Directorate, said it was dedicated to building a workplace where people feel “safe and comfortable”.
She added: “This officer’s behaviour, which was targeted at female colleagues only, was completely unacceptable and there is no place for this behaviour within West Yorkshire Police.
Ms Bryar noted Mr Wood had been dismissed from the force and will be on the College of Policing’s barred list.
“We have made it clear to our officers, staff, and volunteers that inappropriate workplace behaviours should not be passed off as a joke or banter and have been actively encouraging employees to report any concerns to us,” she added.
Police forces have faced sustained criticism in the wake of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens in March 2021 and other scandals involving officers.
While violence against women and girls has gained increasing attention since Ms Everard’s killing, police have been fiercely criticised over the failure to properly tackle these issues within their own ranks.