A police officer has been dismissed without notice for abusing his position to initiate a sexual relationship with a woman he knew to be vulnerable.
It follows a Police Ombudsman investigation which found that the officer had “demonstrated exploitative behaviour” by establishing the relationship after calling at the woman’s home in response to a report of concern for her safety.
The woman, who had been recorded on police systems as being in a vulnerable state of mind, said she believed she had been targeted due to that vulnerability and “used” by the officer.
The PSNI accepted a Police Ombudsman recommendation that the allegations against the officer should be heard at a misconduct hearing. After considering the evidence, the misconduct panel ruled that the officer should be immediately dismissed for “gross misconduct”.
Police Ombudsman Mrs Marie Anderson said: “This officer was in a position of trust and authority, and the evidence suggests his actions were deliberate, planned and caused psychological distress to a vulnerable woman.
“This type of exploitative behaviour has no place in policing and the panel’s decision demonstrates that such actions will not be tolerated within the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”
Police records examined by Police Ombudsman investigators showed that the officer knew that the woman was vulnerable when he initiated the relationship in February last year.
When questioned by Police Ombudsman investigators, he claimed to have met the woman via a dating app, but said the relationship had ended before he met her through his police duties.
This, however, was contradicted by evidence obtained from the officer’s personal mobile phone which showed contact between them only after he had attended the call at her home.
Mrs Anderson said the officer’s account “lacked credibility.”
She added: “I would encourage anyone who believes they have been targeted by a police officer for sexual gain to immediately report it to my Office and we will independently investigate.”