Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Ex-Sussex officer would have been dismissed for three inappropriate relationships
A disciplinary hearing has ruled that a former Sussex Police officer would have been dismissed, if he was still serving, after hearing that he had formed inappropriate relationships with three women, who were in vulnerable positions, he met through his duties.
The outcome follows our investigation.
At an accelerated hearing organised by the force and chaired by its Chief Constable, Jo Shiner, gross misconduct allegations were found proven against ex-police constable Sam Bate, aged 26. The hearing was told that two of the women the Crawley-based officer had inappropriate contact with were being criminally investigated at the time.
He also searched their police records via Sussex Police computer systems without a policing purpose and failed to properly investigate a road traffic incident (RTI) relating to one of the women.
From May to August 2020, he was alleged to have formed an inappropriate relationship with two women, referred to as Ms A and Ms B at the disciplinary hearing.
He exchanged around 500 text messages with Ms A and the content indicated a sexual relationship was being pursued by both parties.
Between the same dates, he met Ms B for coffee after she invited him out following them meeting during the course of a criminal investigation involving potential motoring offences. They exchanged 150 text messages and met for a second time.
From October 2019, he had been in touch professionally with Ms C. In January 2020 they exchanged texts with a view to meeting for coffee. Although the meeting never happened, the woman told investigators this contact further impacted on her vulnerability.
The disciplinary hearing determined that the former officer had breached police standards of professional behaviour for honesty and integrity; confidentiality; duties and responsibilities; conduct; orders and instructions; and authority, respect and courtesy.
IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley yesterday said:
“Former PC Bate took advantage of vulnerable women and the pattern of behaviour he demonstrated has absolutely no place in policing.
“Abuse of position for sexual purpose is a form of serious corruption. He also neglected to perform his duties when investigating a road traffic incident and this action damages public confidence in the police.
“This outcome imposed by this police hearing should provide a clear message to any officer who misconduct themselves in such a way, that they will be held to account and can and will face serious consequences for their actions.”
The IOPC began an investigation in August 2020 following a referral about the officer’s conduct from Sussex Police.
Investigators interviewed the officer, examined his mobile phones and obtained statements from witnesses, including some of the individuals he had been contacting. Audits showing the officers’ access to the individual’s policing records were also reviewed.
At the end of our investigation in May 2021 we submitted our report to Sussex Police with our view that PC Bate had a case to answer for gross misconduct. The officer resigned from the force in January.
Mr Bate will now be placed on the police barred list, meaning he cannot work for the police service again.
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