Former Cumbria Constabulary officer would have been dismissed over inappropriate relationship with victim of crime

Published: 22 Dec 2023

A former Cumbria Constabulary officer who lied to his sergeant about visiting a woman he had formed an inappropriate relationship with has been barred from working in policing following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

We independently investigated the nature of PC David Henley’s contact with the woman, who he first met in 2017 when she reported being a victim of crime.

We found evidence the relationship between them developed in 2021, at which point PC Henley – who resigned during our investigation – visited the woman’s home a number of times while on duty. We could find no policing purpose for these visits.

Our investigation followed a referral from Cumbria Constabulary in August 2021 and concluded in July 2022. We obtained witness statements and reviewed mobile phone data of PC Henley’s communications.

Evidence showed he had abused his position for a sexual purpose by forming an inappropriate relationship with a woman he met when she reported being a victim of crime.

In a statement, he told the investigator his on-duty visits to her home were during his rest breaks, however, radio location data showed several of these visits lasted significantly longer than the breaks he was entitled to. On one occasion he stayed for almost three hours.

We also found evidence he searched for information about the woman on police systems without a valid policing purpose. While he said he was trying to find her contact details in order to return a missing item, phone data showed he had contacted her 12 days earlier to ask her out for coffee.

Our investigation also found PC Henley failed to report his relationship with the woman to supervisors, as required by force policy, and after his supervisor had spotted PC Henley’s police vehicle near the woman’s address, lied when asked where he was.

On conclusion of the investigation, we determined former PC Henley had a case to answer for gross misconduct for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour relating to: authority, respect and courtesy; duties and responsibilities; discreditable conduct; honesty and integrity; and confidentiality.

The force agreed and arranged a misconduct hearing, which concluded on 14 December. The independently-chaired panel found the allegations proven and that he would have been dismissed had he not already resigned.

IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “When officers abuse their position for a sexual purpose, it is a form of serious corruption. Behaviour like this significantly undermines public confidence in the police and there can be no excuse for it.

“Allegations such as these are taken extremely seriously – by the IOPC, forces and disciplinary panels. Our investigation, carried out independently of the police, has ensured former PC Henley will be unable to work in policing in future.

“There is absolutely no place in policing for his actions, which showed a complete lack of integrity or respect for the profession.”

  • Cumbria Constabulary
  • Corruption and abuse of power