Former West Mercia Police officer would have been dismissed for inappropriate relationship

Published: 09 May 2023

A former West Mercia Police officer would have been dismissed if he was still serving after gross misconduct was found proven at a force hearing, following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Ex-police constable Mark Hidden, aged 42, faced allegations of gross misconduct after being accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman, a victim of crime, he had met through his policing duties.

PC Hidden, visited the woman’s home in December 2019 after she had reported a domestic incident. He was alleged to have entered into a consensual, but inappropriate, sexual relationship with the woman shortly after. Evidence indicates that he had consensual sex with the woman on several occasions, including while on duty, up until April 2020.

The investigation found that between December 2019 and May 2020 there were more than 5,500 WhatsApp messages exchanged between the officer and the woman, with only a small proportion for a policing matter. Some of the messages sent by the officer were of a sexual nature and while he was on duty. Investigators uncovered on PC Hidden’s work issue mobile phone a number of sexually graphic images shared between them.

The IOPC investigation began in May 2020 following a referral regarding the officer’s conduct from West Mercia Police. IOPC investigators interviewed the officer under caution, examined his mobile phone and obtained statements from several witnesses, including the woman victim. At the end of our investigation in May 2021 we submitted our report to the force with our view that PC Hidden had a case to answer for gross misconduct. PC Hidden resigned from the force last year.

A police disciplinary panel, led by a legally qualified, independent Chair, also heard evidence that PC Hidden had accessed police systems to view information about the woman without a legitimate policing purpose.

The panel determined today (Tuesday) that the former officer, who was based in Shropshire, had breached the standards of professional behaviour in a number of areas including authority, respect and courtesy, confidentiality and discreditable conduct. It was decided he would have been dismissed had he still been serving. 

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “Cases such as these have the real potential to impact on public confidence in policing. At the outset of their service, it is made clear to officers that it is unacceptable to have, or seek, inappropriate and unprofessional contact with members of the public who they deal with through their professional duties.

“Ex PC-Hidden continued a sexual relationship with a vulnerable woman, who was a victim of crime, over a number of months despite knowing his conduct was wrong. Following a gross misconduct hearing, it has been determined that he would have been dismissed had he still been a serving police officer. This sends a clear message that behaviour of this kind will be thoroughly investigated, has no part in policing and will not be tolerated.”

At the end of our investigation, we sent a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider any potential offence. The CPS later decided not to bring any criminal charge.

Mr Hidden will now be placed on the police barred list.  

  • West Mercia Police
  • Corruption and abuse of power