Former Leicestershire Police officer dismissed following inappropriate contact with three women

17 Nov 2021 03:27 PM

A former Leicestershire Police officer would have been dismissed without notice, had he still been serving, after gross misconduct was found proven at an accelerated misconduct hearing carried out by the force, following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Police Constable Norman Watson – who retired in July 2021 following more than 13 years of service with the force - faced allegations of gross misconduct after attempting to form an inappropriate relationship with two women and having inappropriate contact with a third – who he’d met through the course of his duties between May 2020 and January 2021.

A hearing was carried out at Leicestershire Police headquarters on Tuesday 16 November 2021 and was chaired by the Chief Constable.

In March 2021, the IOPC received a conduct referral from Leicestershire Police after the force had carried out a lawful business review of PC Watson’s work devices in August last year.

This review uncovered conversations of concern between the officer and a woman he’d met through his duties. Further searches identified two other women with whom it was deemed the officer had had inappropriate contact.

The officer – who was suspended pending the outcome of an investigation – was accused of forming an emotional and/or sexual relationship with a woman he had met following the bereavement of her mother in May 2020. PC Watson ended messages to the woman with kisses, provided her with his personal phone number encouraging her to use it and informed her that he’d wished he could have taken her in his arms on the day they first met.

PC Watson was also accused of forming an emotional and/or sexual relationship with a second woman following a concern for safety raised by her daughter due to a suspected overdose in January 2021. When contacting the force to thank the officer, the woman was given PC Watson’s personal phone number. Within a matter of weeks, the pair had entered into a romantic relationship. PC Watson was also accused of accessing confidential force systems containing personal information with no policing purpose and keeping the relationship secret from his supervisors.

In relation to a third woman, PC Watson had exchanged more than 300 text messages with her as part of his duties from his work mobile phone. 17 of these were deemed to contain inappropriate language, including the words “hun” and “darling”.

The IOPC investigation included assessment of data from PC Watson’s work device, the forensic download of the officer’s personal device, associated police logs, the statements of two of the women involved and the interview transcript for PC Watson.

At the end of the investigation in August 2021, we found that PC Watson had two separate cases of gross misconduct to answer following contact with a female and a further case of gross misconduct for accessing police systems whilst off duty and without a clear police purpose. We found a case to answer for misconduct in relation to a third woman.

Derrick Campbell, Regional Director for the IOPC recently said:

“Police officers are held to certain standards when it comes to their interactions with members of the public and they are expected to conduct themselves professionally.

“The abuse of police powers for purposes of sexual exploitation is a form of serious corruption. It has a devastating impact on victims, and a serious impact on the public’s confidence in individual officers and the service in general. It is important there are effective systems in place to prevent, monitor and deal swiftly with any individual who exploits that trust.

“Our independent investigation concluded that the officer in this case abused his position by actively pursuing inappropriate relationships with female members of the public. In doing so, he has breached the police standards of professional behaviour, betrayed a vulnerable woman, and has undermined public confidence in police.

“Following an accelerated gross misconduct hearing, it was determined the force would have dismissed the officer without notice, had he still been serving, which sends a clear message that such behaviour has no part in policing.”

He will also be placed on the police barred list.