IOPC to investigate Gwent Police officers over sharing of offensive messages allegations
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) had decided to independently investigate the conduct of several serving Gwent Police officers over allegations of sharing offensive messages.
The decision follows careful assessment of referrals and accompanying information from Gwent Police received both this week and last week, after details of messages on the phone of a now deceased police officer were published in a national newspaper on 13 November. The messages publicised are of a racist, misogynistic and homophobic nature and some alluded to potential corruption.
We have requested further information from Gwent Police in relation to the alleged involvement of former officers in the sharing of messages, and we will make a decision on whether they fall within the IOPC’s jurisdiction and therefore if we are legally permitted to include them in the investigation in due course.
We have also considered referrals from Gwent Police and Wiltshire Police setting out a series of complaints from the family of former Police Sergeant Ricky Jones related to the force’s handling of its investigation into his death and officers’ contact with his relatives.
We have decided these matters can continue to be investigated by a separate force, Wiltshire Police. The family will have a right of review to the IOPC if they are not satisfied with the findings and outcome of that investigation. Aspects of the family’s complaints that relate to the offensive phone messages discovered will be incorporated into the IOPC’s independent conduct investigation.
As part of our investigation, we will consider whether conduct allegations concerning the phone messages should have been referred to the IOPC earlier.
IOPC Director for Wales, Catrin Evans, said: “I recognise that many people will find the messages aired in the public domain, apparently shared among police officers, highly disturbing.
“After publication of the national newspaper article, we formally wrote to the Chief Constable of Gwent Police requesting they provide us with information to establish the chain of events and decisions taken in relation to the family’s complaints, and any conduct matters. We had not previously received a referral from the force on any of these matters.
“On the basis of our assessment of the conduct referrals received so far, we have decided that an independent investigation is essential to maintain public confidence. We will be investigating the alleged involvement of a number of serving Gwent Police officers in sharing offensive messages. We will keep the involvement of any further serving and former officers under review as more information comes to light. We will need to progress a full download of data from the phone of Mr Ricky Jones. I would ask for patience while we undertake our enquiries as swiftly and thoroughly as possible.”
We received a referral from Gwent Police on 15 November concerning the family’s complaint and received three conduct referrals, on 18, 19 and 23 November, relating to several serving and former officers identified as being involved in the phone messages.