A Merseyside Police sergeant was caught running a WhatsApp group titled ‘Would you Wouldn’t you’ containing dozens of secretly taken pictures of his female colleagues, the ECHO exclusively revealed.
Some of the photos shared in the group allegedly showed the backsides and crotch areas of female officers or staff as they went about their duties, and the ECHO understands around 12 women in the force have been identified as being pictured. The officer has not been suspended and is still working, albeit on restricted duties, more than a year after the allegations came to light.
Merseyside Police confirmed that a misconduct hearing into the behaviour of two officers will be held at a date to be set, and said it could not comment on the specifics of the case while proceedings were ongoing. The force confirmed both officers were on restricted duties while disciplinary procedures take place.
The ECHO has been told the revelations have caused disgust and deep anger among many officers in the force who are concerned at the length of time disciplinary procedures are taking.
The WhatsApp messages came to light during another investigation into the same officer, a married man with children, allegedly breaching covid restrictions. That probe involved the force’s Professional Standards Department examining his phone.
A source with knowledge of the situation told the ECHO: “He had set this group up, as far as I’m aware there have been 12 female officers identified. He was taking photos of his female colleagues bending over and things, and comparing them to each other. There were over 100 photos in the group; it’s pretty disgusting.”
The case comes at a time when there is increased scrutiny on the culture within policing nationally, flowing from the murder of Sarah Everard by serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, on March 3, 2021. There have been several other scandals involving misogyny in the Met since that case.
According to a recent Freedom of Information request in Merseyside Police, between April 2018 and December 2020, eight officers were hit with allegations of “unprofessional and inappropriate” use of social media, including one who received a final written warning.
Detective Superintendent Mark Baker, from the force’s Professional Standards Department, told the ECHO:
“We demand the highest possible standards from our officers and staff and the Professional Standards Team is committed to ensuring that those who fall below those standards are held to account. All of our officers should recognise the unique position we hold in maintaining law and order, and that to keep the trust and confidence of our communities we must uphold the highest standards of behaviour ourselves at all times.
“The public rightly have high expectations of our officers and Merseyside Police is committed to ensuring we meet those expectations and we will investigate those and take appropriate action, whether that be through internal misconduct processes or the criminal justice system.
“The overwhelming majority of our staff understand the need for integrity and high standards and provide the public with an exception service day in and day out and we have processes in place so that officers and staff are able to confidentially report to us if a colleague does not adhere to the standards expected.”