Northamptonshire policeman fired after lying to colleagues about going home on duty

The hearing took place at Northamptonshire Police's headquarters at Wootton Hall
The hearing took place at Northamptonshire Police's headquarters at Wootton Hall

A Northamptonshire policeman has been sacked after being found guilty of gross misconduct.

A three-person panel adjudged PC Philip Cole to be guilty on the balance of probabilities of lying to his colleagues and his supervisor and being absent without reason.

As a result, he breached the standards of professional behaviour and neglected his duties and responsibilities and did not behave with honesty and integrity.

PC Cole, 39, had on the morning of September 1, 2017, told fellow members of his missing persons unit he was going to Rushden police station to drop off a set of drawers.

Instead, he drove to his home in Rothwell with the cabinet containing "personal effects", which the panel said he could have done in his own time rather than while on duty.

"You informed your colleagues that the reason you were leaving the office was to move your equipment to Rushden police station, which was untrue," said the panel’s chair David Tyme, an employment solicitor.

"You told your superior that you were at Rushden police station, which was also untrue."

PC Cole's supervisor, Sergeant Marie Turner, arrived at the unit’s Mere Way base after he left without telling her.

When Sergeant Turner was told of PC Cole’s plans by her team, attempts were made to contact him to tell him to attend a job in Wellingborough.

The panel said he was uncontactable for 90 minutes but PC Cole’s representative, Elsa Williamson, argues it was 47 minutes as evidenced by a phone call between the officer and Sergeant Turner.

But during the phone call, PC Cole told his superior he was in Rushden even though Sergeant Turner knew he was in Rothwell after ‘pinging’ his radio to find his location.

He did not admit his whereabouts until being challenged by Sergeant Turner.

The panel found in favour of three witnesses (PC Cole's team members) whose evidence was considered truthful and consistent with one another; PC Cole’s evidence was "not accepted".

The 39-year-old insisted he had told his colleagues he was going to Rothwell and said they had misheard him say Rushden.

During their evidence yesterday, two team members said they were certain PC Cole had said Rushden.

In mitigation, Mrs Williamson said her client's misconduct was confined to a single episode and referenced PC Cole's good character references.

Northamptonshire Police's Chief Superintendent Chris Hillery voluntarily provided a reference for the hearing - something senior officers of his rank would not usually do.

Mrs Williamson added 2017 had been a "stressful" and "difficult" year for PC Cole due to a family bereavement "which may well have affected his decision making that day".

The panel was "extremely sympathetic" of this but said it had limited weight in terms of mitigation.

During his conclusion, Mr Tyme said: "The panel carefully considered imposing a final warning, however, having regarded the aggravating factors concluded on dismissal with immediate effect."

The main aggravating factor was that PC Cole "concealed his untruthfulness by discrediting his colleagues".