London: A police officer had sex with two domestic violence victims while on duty and used the force’s computer systems to track down two other women and send them texts of a sexual nature, the police watchdog has found. Malcolm Bennett, formerly of Northumbria Police, met both vulnerable women in his capacity as a constable, and drove their homes in a police vehicle while on duty and wearing his uniform. Five allegations of gross misconduct, including sexual activity on duty and unlawfully accessing police computer systems for information, were found proven at a disciplinary hearing held in private earlier this week, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said. The panel found that Bennett, who was based in Wallsend, North Tyneside, breached standards of honesty, integrity and confidentiality. Had he not already retired, Bennett would have been dismissed for gross misconduct, the watchdog said. He started a year-long sexual relationship with one of the women in September 2016. The other relationship began seven months later, in April.
Following the IOPC investigation, Bennett was charged with offences under the Data Protection Act and admitted them in August 2019 at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, the police watchdog said. “Both women were clearly vulnerable and had been victims of domestic abuse,” said IOPC regional director Miranda Biddle. He breached the high standards of professional behaviour expected of police officers and rightly would have been dismissed if still serving. We will continue to use our learning from such investigations and provide guidance to assist police forces to identify abuses of position for sexual purpose and inappropriate behaviour at the earliest opportunity.” After the hearing, Northumbria Police’s head of professional standards, Superintendent Steve Ammari, said: “Malcolm Bennett abused his privileged position for his own selfish gains and his behaviour was completely unacceptable. We want to reassure the public that the actions of this individual are in no way representative of the officers and staff who every single day display the highest levels of professionalism and commitment to the communities we are proud to serve.”
Source: Andy Gregory, Independent, https://is.gd/i6OBaP