Northamptonshire Police officer dismissed after gross misconduct

A police officer who failed to tell Northamptionshire Police about the movements of her daughter’s drug dealer boyfriend committed gross misconduct, a disciplinary panel has found.

By Nick Spoors
Wednesday, 30th September 2015, 7:49 pm
Wootton Hall, Police Headquarters. ENGNNL00520130925110345
Wootton Hall, Police Headquarters. ENGNNL00520130925110345

A hearing at Wootton Hall today was told of three main allegations against Northamptonshire Police’s PC Karen Clarke, 49, from Kettering.

The most serious was that she failed to log any information on police systems - as is the force’s policy - about her daughter’s on-off boyfriend, who was known to be a prolific criminal and a drug dealer.

Rachel Swann, the assistant chief constable, who headed the panel, said the evidence given proved the breach of professional standards.

She said: “She knew he was a drug dealer but she did not submit an intelligence log, despite him calling at the house on at least two occasions.

“Things that could have been logged include his location, state of health or any contact numbers.”

It was also alleged that, on February 13 this year, she withheld information from her sergeant about her convicted criminal son, who officers believed was in Raunds, in breach of his licence conditions.

PC Clarke was called by her son while on duty, saying his BMW car had been found in Raunds, from where he was banned under his licence conditions.

Presenting solicitor David Ring said that PC Clarke was overheard by a fellow police officer telling her son to use the excuse that he was going to visit her father, who lived in the village.

Mr Ring said, as an officer for 18 years, she would have known that the reason given might lead to a warning from probation service rather than a recall to prison.

He also said that, when asked by her Sergeant about her son’s BMW being found in Raunds but she “looked blank” and didn’t mention she had spoken to him. She also gave her sergeant an incorrect mobile phone number to contact him.

Later it was discovered that PC Clarke had deleted a string of texts to her son sent on the night and had asked colleagues in the police canteen how she could delete a number from her phone.

Mr Ring said: “You had offered your son a range of things he could say to police to minimise his breach.

“He would have got a warning and as an experienced police officer you would have known that.

“You withheld relevant information and were then trying to delete evidence.”

PC Clarke said: “I suspected my son was in Raunds but I had insisted he wasn’t and I didn’t know for sure. I had lots of things going round my head

“I wasn’t being dishonest. I really, really wasn’t.”

Mrs Swann said, taken together, the breaches amounted to gross misconduct.

She said: “You are an officer of good conduct but we do not accept all your evidence.”

Another allegation, found not proved, was that PC Clarke acted unprofessionally while in uniform by arguing with her son in Kettering town centre in February this year, when she was patrolling the town and he was on a night out.

Defending PC Clarke, Steven Evans said: “These breaches over seven days against a difficult background compromised 18 years of otherwise good service.

“Her sin was the sin of omission. She didn’t lie, she simply did not supply the sergeant with the full information, which she admitted in interview.”

Police Constable 156 Karen Clarke was the subject of a Gross Misconduct Hearing following a misconduct investigation. The alleged breaches include:

(a) Honesty and Integrity

(b) Discreditable conduct

(c) Duties and Responsibilities

The allegations were as follows:

The officer failed to notify Northamptonshire Police of her association with a prolific offender who was in a relationship with her daughter, as per Force Policy.

The officer failed to appropriately deal with an incident whilst she was on duty in a town centre, involving her son.

The officer failed to appropriately deal with an incident and provide an honest account when spoken to by a supervisor, whilst on duty, relating to an incident with her son.