Arresting News of (Dis)organised Crime and Corruption
The multiple inquiries into a toxic police culture launched in the wake of the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard would do well to also examine the culture of cover up in professional standards departments that are supposedly rooting out misogyny, sexism and racism in the ranks.
The Upsetter has learned of a case in Derbyshire police that is shrouded in secrecy. The events that follow took place in the shadow of the Everard case.
They reveal how a professional standards department (PSD) turned a blind eye to overtly racist texts between two female constables, with little come back from the Independent Office of Police Conduct.
The IOPC is one of four bodies currently examining policing culture and professional standards following the arrest of Wayne Couzens in March this year.
The watchdog is predominantly looking at the sending of discriminatory and inappropriate texts between officers on messaging apps and the failure to challenge that gross misconduct.
Of particular interest is a Whatsapp group that included Couzens and four other male officers from the Met, Norfolk police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
Their allegedly misogynist and racist messages were discovered during the Everard murder investigation and referred by the Met to the IOPC, who decided, in the glare of publicity, to independently investigate.
However, over in Derbyshire, the IOPC took a very different approach when a white female officer called her estranged police lover a ‘dirty Asian cunt’ in a Whatsapp exchange with another female officer.
The overtly racist message was followed by two crying-with-laughter emojis and discovered on her police phone by Derbyshire’s PSD, which chose not to investigate.
The whole case has been cloaked in official secrecy, knowing a full airing would do nothing to instil confidence in a force serving a high density Asian community.
It was only after ethnic minority officers made some noise that Derbyshire police referred the matter to the IOPC.
But even then, the watchdog did not launch an independent investigation, preferring instead to allow neighbouring Staffordshire police to do a ‘review’, which after four months still hasn’t reported.
Here’s how it unfolded.
According to sources familiar with the case, Derbyshire’s PSD received intelligence through its ‘Bad Apple’ internal reporting system that a Sikh firearms officer was ‘a predator’ on female cops.
The Bad Apple system had separately received a complaint from a white male firearms officer about comments the Sikh officer had allegedly made to his wife, who was also in the police.
The Sikh constable was in his late 30s with just under ten years service. He was married to an Asian woman and seen as a respected member of his community.
The Bad Apple intelligence was not evidence and possibly malicious. However, matters took a different turn when the PSD learned about an affair between the Sikh constable and a white female officer that had ended badly.
According to an account from sources close to these events, which is not denied by Derbyshire police, the following took place:
The female constable called her Sikh ex in a distressed state. They met and he then reported the incident internally.
Shortly thereafter, the PSD went to see the female constable, who claimed she had been in a controlling relationship with the Sikh officer.
The PSD treated her as a victim and she was interviewed on video. In the course of that interview she admitted having had sex on duty with her Sikh lover.
He was interviewed and denied being on duty during the sex session. They both faced gross misconduct charges. He was put on restricted duty, she remained in an operational role until the discipline hearing in February 2021.
The misconduct hearing was held in secret. The public and press were excluded, despite police reforms in 2015 requiring a presumption in favour of openness and transparency.
Furthermore, the independent panel chair agreed to applications from both officers that the hearing should be anonymised. Derbyshire police will not explain the rationale for these decisions.
During the hearing the Sikh officer’s legal team noticed that buried in the disclosure schedule were text messages on the female officer’s police phone.
According to a source close to these events, the PSD initially claimed the text messages had not been downloaded. The schedule indicated otherwise and the messages were finally disclosed.
After wading through the data, the Sikh officer’s barrister found an overtly racist Whatsapp message the female officer had sent to another policewoman.
It is understood the text exchange took place shortly after the affair had ended acrimoniously and before she alleged to the PSD that she had been in a controlling relationship.
The exchange of particular interest was on 23 December 2018 at 11.18pm:
Police friend: Well yeah I knew it wouldn’t last long. He messaged me. And I’ve told him where to go.
The Ex: You know why he’s done that don’t you. Because he can’t get hold of me because I’ve blocked him
Police friend: Yeah to tell you and get you to speak to him. Ducking cunt.
The Ex: Dirty Asian cunt. 😂😂 He’s never putting his dirty hands on me again. Thanks for having my back.
According to a source close to these events, the text exchange was put to the female officer in cross-examination and she denied being a racist.
The disciplinary panel sacked the Asian officer. The female officer was given a written warning. The coercive element of her claim was not proven, a source said.
As the PSD decided not to discipline the female officer over the racist text exchange, she was returned to front facing duties.
Her female police friend, also a constable, who had a duty to report these types of texts, also escaped any censure.
But a race row was developing inside the force. “Asian cops on Derby division have kicked off about it and both the female officers [were] contacted at home and told the Asian officers are disgruntled,” a source told The Upsetter.
There was also concern over the disciplining of another Sikh officer who had allegedly accessed the police computer over concerns about the way the police had dealt with an attack on a Gurdwara (Sikh temple).
“Either way there’s a backlash from the Sikh community,” said the source.
In March, with the shadow of the Everard case looming over UK policing, Derbyshire police says it referred the matter to the IOPC.
Two months later in May the watchdog decided an outside force should review the case.
A spokesperson for Derbyshire police said:
“Whilst we are unable to comment on individual cases, we take all reports of racism extremely seriously and ensure that any such complaints are raised and reviewed within the appropriate channels. This includes regular consultation with associations which represent Black, Asian or Minority Ethnicities.
We referred the matter to the IOPC for an independent appraisal and upon receipt of their advice, an independent force – Staffordshire Police – was asked to carry out a review. This review is now in progress. The referral was made by Derbyshire police and was not as a result of any complaint.”
Asked if the conduct of the Derbyshire PSD was being looked at, the force spokesperson said:
“The review is limited to a text message sent between officers.”
Asked if the two female constables were still on front facing duties, the spokesperson said:
“No officers relating to this matter are currently suspended or on restricted duties.”
And so it goes.