Three officers suspended over Gwent Police misconduct claims
Three police officers have been suspended from Gwent Police over claims of misogyny, racism and homophobia.
Gwent Police said the officers had been suspended after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched an investigation.
The watchdog said the serving officers were under investigation for misconduct over allegations of sharing offensive messages.
The inquiry was launched following a Sunday Times investigation into a phone owned by former Sergeant Ricky Jones.
The handset was found to contain offensive message exchanges between him and former colleagues.
The newspaper said racist images, pornographic videos and sensitive information about misconduct and corruption investigations were among the material exchanged.
In a WhatsApp group, officers called each other “poofs” and “PC closet” while another group member used the word “slopes” to describe Asian people, according to the Sunday Times.
The IOPC said it had requested further information from Gwent Police in relation to the alleged involvement of former officers in the sharing of messages who could be included in the investigation.
A separate investigation into complaints from the family of Sgt Jones related to Gwent Police’s handling of its investigation into his death and officers’ contact with his relatives will continue to be managed by Wiltshire Police.
Catrin Evans, IOPC director for Wales, said: “I recognise that many people will find the messages aired in the public domain, apparently shared among police officers, highly disturbing.
“After publication of the national newspaper article, we formally wrote to the Chief Constable of Gwent Police requesting they provide us with information to establish the chain of events and decisions taken in relation to the family’s complaints, and any conduct matters. We had not previously received a referral from the force on any of these matters.
“On the basis of our assessment of the conduct referrals received so far, we have decided that an independent investigation is essential to maintain public confidence.
“We will be investigating the alleged involvement of a number of serving Gwent Police officers in sharing offensive messages.
“We will keep the involvement of any further serving and former officers under review as more information comes to light.
“We will need to progress a full download of data from the phone of Mr Ricky Jones. I would ask for patience while we undertake our enquiries as swiftly and thoroughly as possible.”
A Gwent Police spokesman said the force was co-operating with the IOPC’s investigation.
“The IOPC has today confirmed its role in investigating the conduct of serving officers following referrals from Gwent Police,” a spokesman said.
“We are committed to working with them to ensure a full and transparent process to tackle any unacceptable behaviour by officers.
“We have suspended three officers in relation to allegations of misconduct.
“Following allegations published in The Sunday Times on November 13 and 20 we have worked to identify the officers involved and to take appropriate action.
“Our work to challenge any misconduct by serving officers continues.”
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