Police officers sacked for belonging to 'demeaning' WhatsApp group

Serving police officers are sacked without notice for belonging to WhatsApp group that shared ‘derogatory and demeaning’ pictures and memes

  • Sergeant Matthew Parker and PC Robert Fraser dismissed from Essex Police
  • They were found to have committed gross misconduct and breached standards
  • The hearing was chaired by Essex Chief Constable BJ Harrington

Two serving police officers have been dismissed without notice for being part of a WhatsApp group which shared ‘derogatory and demeaning’ images and memes.

Sergeant Matthew Parker and PC Robert Fraser were dismissed from Essex Police following a disciplinary hearing held yesterday.

They were found to have committed gross misconduct and breached the standards of professional behaviour relating to authority, respect and courtesy, equality and diversity, discreditable conduct and challenging and reporting improper behaviour.

The hearing took place at Chelmsford City Council offices and was chaired by Essex Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington.

The hearing heard how the officers, who both worked in Essex Police’s Resolution Centre at the force’s Chelmsford headquarters, were part of a WhatsApp group where discriminatory and derogatory images and memes were shared.

Two serving police officers have been dismissed without notice for being part of a WhatsApp group which shared ‘derogatory and demeaning’ images and memes. Pictured: The headquarters of Essex Police in Chelmsford, where Sergeant Matthew Parker and PC Robert Fraser worked

The group was discovered in May and the officers were suspended from their duties at Essex Police Headquarters in Chelmsford.

In July, The Sun reported that the internal disciplinary investigation was launched into six staff who had been part of the Whatsapp group. 

The force declined to discuss the nature of the messages exchanged but police experts told the newspaper they must have been ‘offensive and unpleasant’ for the six to be suspended.

The six reportedly were part of the same team at Essex’s headquarters and had their work phones and warrant cards taken from them after arriving for work.   

The hearing took place at Chelmsford City Council offices and was chaired by Essex Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington

A source said at the time: ‘They were an experienced team and shared private messages between them on a WhatsApp group as many people do, but it was judged to have seriously crossed the line.’ 

Chief Constable Harrington said on Tuesday: ‘I expect the utmost professionalism from all officers and staff at Essex Police and that extends to their conduct on messaging and social media platforms, whether on or off duty.

‘The public rightly expects the highest standards of officers and staff who are entrusted to keep them safe. No member of the police service should discriminate against any part of society.

‘The behaviour shown by these officers undermines the hard-earned trust of the communities of Essex.

‘It fell far short of my expectations and is out of step with the high standards of diversity, equality and inclusion, all of which are at the heart of what Essex Police stands for.

‘It damages the reputation of the majority of those working within Essex Police who value difference in all people and provide a high-quality service to the people of Essex.’

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