Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Former West Mercia Police officer given prison sentence for grossly offensive messages

A former West Mercia Police officer was recently (14 June 2022) sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment following a hearing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court. At an earlier hearing he had pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sending a grossly offensive message via a public communication network.

IOPC regional director, Derrick Campbell recently said:  

“We note the prison sentence imposed on former West Mercia Police officer James Watts today after he earlier pleaded guilty to sharing grossly offensive, racist material via WhatsApp. The sharing of such images by a serving officer, some of which mocked the death of George Floyd, is bound to have caused significant reputational damage to policing.

“The content of these messages will disturb many people both within and outside the police service.  Today’s outcome must act as a stark reminder that this behaviour, particularly from a police officer, is unacceptable. It is important officers understand it is irrelevant whether such activity takes place on or off duty, or in a private or public social media network – the conduct is likely to face serious disciplinary or criminal consequences.

“Our investigation began in June 2020 following a referral from West Mercia Police after intelligence was received by the force. At its conclusion in April 2021, we sent our investigation report to the Crown Prosecution Service which authorised the charge under S.127 of the Communications Act 2003.”


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