Police officer guilty of gross misconduct for stealing van battery after crash
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A police officer stole a van battery after a road accident and took it home.
Oliver George West, formerly of Dyfed-Powys Police, was challenged a couple of weeks later by his supervising sergeant.
Mr West went on to admit the theft at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court and resigned from the force while under investigation for gross misconduct.
A Dyfed-Powys Police hearing has now found that his actions amounted to gross misconduct and that he would have been dismissed without notice if was still a serving officer.
Temporary chief constable Claire Parmenter said she had considered Mr West’s service record and his apology for what he had done.
She said the culpability level was high in that he had known what he was doing.
She added that the harm done to the police force was also high and that the timing of the offence while on duty and assisting the public was an aggravating factor. She also said no mitigating factors had been put forward.
Police Federation representative Sergeant Ceris Davies told the misconduct hearing, which Mr West did not attend, that he was thankful for his service and had been “a proud officer”.
She said: “He would like to apologise and takes full responsibility for what he has done.”
The hearing was told that on January 23 this year PC West relieved the night shift at the scene of a crash involving a Vauxhall Vivaro on the B4317 between Pembrey and Trimsaran.
He removed the battery, worth £254.64, from the van without permission from the vehicle’s owners Enzo’s Homes and put it into his patrol vehicle.
On returning to the roads policing unit car park at Cross Hands Mr West transferred the battery to his own car and took it home.
When challenged by Sergeant Richard Lucas on February 8 Mr West was said to have told him that he was using the battery at his farm. The following day he handed the battery in.
Two days after that he was suspended after an investigation was launched by Dyfed-Powys Police’s professional standards department.
Mr West pleaded guilty to theft on July 1 at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced four weeks later at Swansea Magistrates’ Court to a 12-month community order involving 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also told to pay £85 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.
The 31-year-old, whose address given at court was Tirmynydd Road, Three Crosses, Gower, resigned from the force two days before the sentencing.
He had been given the opportunity of legal representation at the misconduct hearing.
Chief Constable Parmenter said she found the case against Mr West “is proven” although he can appeal the outcome.
Dyfed-Powys Police said Mr West will now be placed on the College of Policing barred list which will prevent him from being employed in any police force or other specified law enforcement body in the future.
In a statement it said: “Dyfed-Powys Police expects the highest standards of honesty and integrity from all officers and staff and any alleged breaches of the standards of professional behaviour will be dealt with appropriately.”