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South Yorkshire police officer sacked for sharing images of people in custody

A police officer has been sacked for sharing images of people in custody on WhatsApp, along with inappropriate and derogatory comments.

PC Owen Davies of South Yorkshire police has been dismissed without notice, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which conducted an investigation into operational images being shared without any policing purpose.

The IOPC said Davies’s personal phone had been examined as part of a separate investigation and that the analysis showed he had shared images of people who had been detained in a police cell and in other settings, including a hospital, with colleagues and former colleagues.

A spokesperson said the WhatsApp exchanges with officers in the group also showed he had made offensive comments about those in the pictures.

He said the analysis showed that the officers had shared personal details about someone who was convicted of a crime, details of a hate crime report and an image taken from body-worn video footage of an officer with an unknown woman.

The IOPC said it had begun its investigation in November 2020 after a referral from South Yorkshire police.

A three-day disciplinary hearing concluded on Friday that Davies’s actions had amounted to gross misconduct, the IOPC said.

The watchdog’s regional director, Emily Barry, said: “PC Davies showed appalling judgment and a complete disregard of the policy and procedures in relation to how he shared confidential policing material.

“It was entirely inappropriate and risked seriously undermining public confidence in the police.

“PC Davies’s decisions to disclose images of suspects connected to serious criminal offences not only breached the applicable policies and procedures but could have undermined ongoing criminal investigations.

“We welcome the panel’s decision, which serves as a reminder that this behaviour is not treated lightly and can result in serious consequences for any officers involved.”

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