Hertfordshire police officer sacked after he begged female junior to hide their relationship

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A misconduct hearing last month ruled the officer’s actions had amounted to gross misconduct

A Hertfordshire Police sergeant who begged a female junior to risk her job and keep their relationship secret has been dismissed.

A misconduct hearing last month ruled the officer’s actions had amounted to gross misconduct and 'akin to a criminal offence', and dismissed PS Graeme Edwards without notice.

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In a decision published this week, the police said PS Graeme Edwards feared he would lose his job if the relationship came to light, and tried to persuade the officer to lie to the police’s standards office.

Hertfordshire police officer sacked after he begged female junior to hide their relationshipHertfordshire police officer sacked after he begged female junior to hide their relationship
Hertfordshire police officer sacked after he begged female junior to hide their relationship

Edwards joined the force in September 2012, before being promoted to the rank of Temporary Sergeant in January 2019, and became a substantive Sergeant in June 2021.

The hearing also heard allegations that the officer had relationships with three officers with a lower rank, referred to as PC A, PC B and PC C.

The panel dismissed allegations of misconduct in regards to the relationships, ruling that in the case of PC A and PC C they were entered into freely and were consensual, while there was an absence of evidence to pursue the allegation from PC B.

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However, the panel said the sergeant’s behaviour in trying to conceal the third relationship and thwart an investigation did justify dismissal.

In January 2020, Edwards asked PC C to tell the Professional Standards Department their relationship had not resulted in sexual intercourse, and by doing so there was no power balance issue.

Edwards texted the junior constable “I’m literally begging for your help” after fearing he would lose his career if details of their relationship were to emerge.

It was alleged he placed pressure on the officer, who had joined Hertfordshire Constabulary in 2019, to mislead the investigation saying: “But if you don’t I’m ****** … I’m literally begging for your help”.

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PC C said she did not want to lie and she said she was being asked to risk her job, to which Edwards replied: “You’re not risking your job because I will be saying the same thing and there is no comeback to it. I would never do it if I thought it would cause you issues!!! You have my word on that. I would never risk you!!!”

During the disciplinary hearing, which took place between January 4 and January 7 2022, Edwards had initially admitted the allegation of dishonesty, but only as misconduct. He later accepted this amounted to gross misconduct.

In their written decision, the panel’s chair said: “We agreed with the [appropriate authority] that the conduct amounted to Gross Misconduct given that [Edwards] deliberately sought to persuade a junior officer to lie during an investigation to save his career and thus thwart the purposes of such inquiry, hide wrongdoing, and expose the junior officer (whom, he claimed he was in love with) to Misconduct Proceedings herself.”

Edwards also agreed to a breach of confidentiality in disclosing details of an investigation into another officer to a colleague, which was ruled to amount to misconduct.

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He was also found to have breached standards in regards two comments made to another officer, including that she should take part in more sexual banter, and this amounted to misconduct.

The panel found Edwards had breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour in regards to: Honesty and Integrity, Orders and Instructions, Confidentiality, Authority, Respect and Courtesy, and Discreditable Conduct.

The panel, led by the legally qualified chair Harry Ireland, ruled Edwards’ conduct was intentional with a degree of planning and akin to a criminal offence.

They added it risked undermining public confidence in the public, and had caused psychological distress to PC C.

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The panel took into account mitigating factors including evidence of remorse, but also noted the aggravating factors including “a malign intent” and the national concern regarding honesty and integrity of police officers when making their decision.

The three-person panel decided to dismiss Edwards with immediate effect.

Edwards was entitled to appeal the panel’s findings within 10 working days of receipt of the decision.