Sussex police officer given final written warning for falsifying Covid-19 test results
Main article content
A police officer has had misconduct allegations proven against them at a disciplinary hearing after an investigation found they had falsified the result of Covid-19 tests and had provided false and misleading accounts concerning the results.
A misconduct hearing was held at Sussex Police headquarters from July 5-6 in front of a panel led by an Independent Legally Qualified Chair (LQC), who directed that the officer would remain anonymous.
LQCs are selected from a list of independent, legally-qualified persons to conduct police misconduct hearings, and are governed by Police Conduct Regulations. LQCs work with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and others to instil and embed as much transparency and proportionality into misconduct hearings.
The officer, referred to as officer A, was granted anonymity by the LQC after making legal representations before the hearing. It is the responsibility of the LQC alone to determine whether or not a hearing is partially or wholly held in public or in private, and whether any participant should be anonymised. Sussex Police are directed by and must abide by rulings made by the panel chair.
The hearing heard that the officer had put a picture of a lateral flow Covid test onto their work WhatsApp group with a message saying ‘Oh What do we think?’. A message in response read, ‘Are you feeling unwell’ to which the officer responded with ‘noo’.
The WhatsApp messages contained pictures of two lateral flow tests, both of which appeared to have had the positive red line drawn on with a biro pen. The following day the officer reported sick with Covid and used one of the pictures to confirm their positive Covid result.
Subsequently when the officer was interviewed, they remained consistent with their claim that the tests were genuine and had not been tampered with.
As a result, officer A was alleged to have breached standards of professional behaviour in respect of Honesty and Integrity.
The breach was proven by the misconduct panel and it was determined that this amounted to misconduct. Officer A was given a Final Written Warning to stay on file for two years.
Superintendent Petra Lazar, deputy head of Professional Standards said: “We expect our officers to act with the utmost integrity, and in accordance with the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Professional Behaviour. We have invested in a comprehensive programme of cultural change towards challenging, reporting and tackling unethical or unprofessional behaviour. Such behaviours have no place in Sussex Police.
“The actions of this officer in this case fell short of the standards we expect, which is reflected in the findings by the panel.”