West Midlands Police officer dismissed after forming inappropriate relationship with vulnerable woman

A West Midlands Police officer has been dismissed – after a disciplinary hearing was told he had formed an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable woman he met on duty.

The outcome follows an 11 month investigation carried out 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 week,s he met the woman twice socially – including visiting her home.

Evidence gathered by the IOPC 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 the IOPC's 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 on Friday(15), 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, the IOPC carried out an 11-month investigation which was completed in January 2020.

The force accepted learning from the report recommending an electronic database be set up to record whether officers had completed integrity health checks.

During the investigation, the IOPC collated and analysed telecommunications messages and data, CCTV footage and police radio transmissions. They interviewed PC Owen and gathered and reviewed statements from police and independent witnesses.

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