Greater Manchester Police officer failed to disclose relationship with victim of crime

Published: 07 Jul 2023

A Greater Manchester Police officer who entered into a relationship with a victim of domestic violence, who he met in the course of his duties, has been given a final written warning by an independent panel following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation.

We received a referral from GMP in September 2019 regarding concerns PC Dean Birkhead may have formed an inappropriate relationship with a woman he had met after she reported a crime to police. He was arrested by IOPC investigators on 20 September 2019 and interviewed under criminal caution.

Our independent investigation, which concluded in September 2020, looked at the nature of the officer’s contact with the woman, and their relationship. We also investigated complaints by the woman’s ex-partner, referred by GMP in December 2019, alleging PC Birkhead had influenced witness statements made by the woman, and that the officer had acted unprofessionally towards him.

Investigators examined PC Birkhead’s work and personal mobile phones and obtained statements from witnesses. We found a significant number of messages to and from the woman on his personal phone, and evidence that they met in person on a number of occasions.

PC Birkhead, who was based in Stockport, admitted failing to report the relationship to supervisors because he said he was scared to do so.

On conclusion of the investigation, we found PC Birkhead had a case to answer for gross misconduct. GMP agreed with our assessment and arranged a misconduct hearing, adjudicated by an independent panel led by a legally qualified chair, which concluded on Thursday (6 July).

The independently-chaired panel found PC Birkhead breached the standards of professional behaviour in relation to his honesty and integrity; and authority, respect and conduct. This was in relation to his failure to report the relationship to his supervisor, and for this he was handed a final written warning.

The panel found he had no case to answer in respect of allegations that his relationship with the woman was inappropriate.

IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “Police officers are entrusted with significant powers and must be seen to be using them responsibly. That is why they are required to report personal relationships where there could be a potential conflict of interest.

“These rules are vital to protect both the public and the integrity of the police service. PC Birkhead was well aware of these rules, which he signed up to on becoming a police officer, yet failed to follow them.

“While the panel was satisfied in this case that the woman in question was not vulnerable, this serves as a valuable reminder of the standards all officers must adhere to if they are to maintain the trust placed in them by the public.”

At the end of our investigation we referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, which decided not to authorise any charges against PC Birkhead. We found no independent evidence capable of confirming whether or not the allegations made in the complaint against PC Birkhead were accurate.

  • Greater Manchester Police