Six police officers who compared a black colleague to a dog and joked that ‘Albanian migrants’ should be shot on entry to the UK have been found guilty of gross misconduct.
After someone made an anonymous complaint to a whistle-blowing service, a bug was planted to record the organised crime unit.
Even though the recording only lasted 24 days the investigation uncovered ‘enough racism and sexism to last a lifetime’.
The officers likened the unit’s only black officer, DC Solomon Koranteng, to a mixed breed dog, sang Bob Marley’s ‘Buffalo Soldier’ at him and said he had been flown ‘from Africa in a crate’ and taken to London Zoo.
The squad also placed a map of Africa above the area in the office where DC Koranteng and another officer of African heritage sat and nicknamed it ‘African Corner’.
On the recording, women were referred to as ‘sluts’, ‘sugar t**s’ and ‘sweet t***’, while an officer’s partner was described as ‘an absolute whore’.
Officers also sent ‘explicit’ fake pornographic images of Prince Harry and Kate Middleton having sex to the work’s WhatsApp group.
Three of the PCs in the team were heard joking that ‘Albanian migrants’ should be shot on entry to the UK or killed with a nerve agent and called women ‘sluts and whores’.
The SOCU unit at Northern Police Investigation Centre in Basingstoke, Hampshire, was described as ‘ableist, sexist, racist, transphobic and homophobic’.
All six of them were found guilty of cumulative gross misconduct after the disciplinary panel spent two days deliberating on the allegations.
As the findings were read out, PC James Oldfield, who ‘boasted about coming into work drunk’, interrupted proceedings, shouting: ‘This is an absolute disgrace. It is absolutely ridiculous. Unbelievable.’
The officers accused of gross misconduct were Detective Inspector Timothy Ireson, Detective Sergeant Oliver Lage, Detective Sergeant Gregory Willcox, trainee Detective Constable Andrew Ferguson, PC James Oldfield, and PC Craig Bannerman.
The panel’s chairman, lawyer John Bassett said: ‘The panel, having spent the last two days in deliberation, can now provide our findings.
‘In respect of each officer the cumulative finding is gross misconduct.
‘We have provided a summary in respect of each allegation faced by the officers and indicated our individual findings in relation to each of those matters.’
Detective Inspector Ireson, who along with Detective Sergeant Willcox was found guilty of failing to supervise and set boundaries for the team, had previously claimed ‘swearing was in the fabric’ of the police force.
But he admitted some of the comments made were ‘stomach turning’.
Defence counsel claimed that the stress and intense workload on the ‘highly successful’ gang-busting unit led to strong bonds forming within the team and they ‘forgot to apply the filter’ when in the office.
The officers argued the investigation into their behaviour had ‘lost all sense of perspective’.
However, prosecutors said DI Ireson’s ‘permissive’ leadership allowed a toxic culture to become embedded in SOCU North where anyone could say anything and not be challenged.
Joanna Bunch, an intelligence analyst who worked on jobs with the team, said: ‘The SOCU Office North just seemed to be stuck in a time from 25-years-ago.’
DI Ireson has retired and PC Bannerman has resigned since the covert recordings were made between March 9 2018 and April 2 2018.
The officers will be able to appeal the decisions. If they are unsuccessful sanctions, which could include dismissal, will be handed down on January 4.
The panel was made up of Mr Bassett, a male police superintendent and a female lawyer.
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