Sacked West Mercia officer's behaviour with vulnerable women 'wholly unacceptable'

A West Mercia Police officer's behaviour in forming a sexual relationship with a vulnerable woman he met through his work and then using his work phone to flirt with another was "wholly unacceptable" a police standards chief has said.

Pc Michael Harrison, 33, was dismissed after gross misconduct was found proven, following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Pc Harrison faced allegations of gross misconduct after being accused of having inappropriate contact with two vulnerable women he met through his policing duties.

Between November 2018 and August 2019, the officer was alleged to have formed an emotional and sexual relationship with one woman and used his work mobile phone to exchange sexually graphic images with her.

It was alleged that between January and July 2019, he engaged in unprofessional, flirtatious communication via social media with another woman from his work phone, and accessed police systems for information about her for no policing purpose. He was also accused of using his work phone, while on and off duty, to access an online dating site and send and receive images of an explicit nature.

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “Cases where police officers abuse their position for a sexual purpose represent a serious form of corruption. At the outset of their service, it is made clear to officers that it is inappropriate to have or seek personal relationships with members of the public they meet through the course of their duties.

“This officer’s behaviour evidenced with two vulnerable women was wholly unacceptable. The police disciplinary panel decided that the officer’s actions breached standards of professional behaviour and, as a result, have dismissed him without notice.”

The IOPC began investigations following referrals about the officer’s conduct from West Mercia Police in September and December 2019. Investigators interviewed the officer, examined his mobile phone, reviewed force systems, and obtained statements from several witnesses, including the women involved.

At the end of the IOPC's investigations in September 2020, a report was submitted to West Mercia Police with the view that Pc Harrison had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

At a police disciplinary hearing, led by an independent, legally qualified chair, it was determined today that Pc Harrison, from the North Worcestershire Policing Area, had breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour in a number of areas including integrity, authority, respect and courtesy, and discreditable conduct. The panel imposed a sanction of dismissal without notice.

Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss said: “I want to be very clear, that we will not accept this behaviour in our force. It is a form of serious corruption."

Mr Harrison will now be barred from working for the police service again.

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