A West Midlands Police officer was dismissed today (Friday 15 January) after a disciplinary hearing was told he had formed an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable woman he met on duty.
The outcome follows an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Constable David Owen was investigated following allegations that he had formed an emotional relationship with a woman after being sent to her home when she was reported missing in February 2019.
Within a few hours of leaving her address the officer contacted her via social media, gave her his private number, and began exchanging messages. In the following weeks he met the woman twice socially, including visiting her home.
Evidence we gathered also indicated that he had used force systems to access logs from incidents involving the woman when he had no policing purpose to do so.
The force agreed with our conclusion that PC Owen had a case to answer for gross misconduct for breaching professional standards of authority, respect and courtesy; integrity; confidentiality, and discreditable conduct.
After a gross misconduct hearing organised by West Midlands Police, which finished today, an independently chaired panel found the allegations against him proven and he was dismissed without notice.
He will now be placed on a list of former officers who are barred from working for the police service in the future.
IOPC Regional Director Derrick Campbell said: “As an experienced officer with more than 18 years’ service, PC Owen should have known that pursuing an improper relationship in the way that he did was a clear breach of the professional boundaries that exist between police and members of the public. It was an abuse of authority, exacerbated by the fact that the officer knew of the woman’s vulnerabilities. He had in fact previously attended an incident when she was a victim of domestic abuse.
“The panel’s decision shows that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Following a referral from West Midlands Police we carried out an 11-month investigation which was completed in January last year (2020).
The force accepted learning from our report recommending an electronic database be set up to record whether officers had completed integrity health checks.
During our investigation we collated and analysed telecommunications messages and data, CCTV footage and police radio transmissions. We interviewed PC Owen and gathered and reviewed statements from police and independent witnesses.