Sussex PCSO sacked for inappropriate relationships with members of public

Published: 04 Dec 2023

A Sussex Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who formed inappropriate relationships with a man and a teenage boy has been dismissed without notice after gross misconduct was proven following an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation. 

Our investigation began in February 2021 and established that between February and December 2020 the Sussex Police employee had formed an inappropriate relationship with a man, who he had met through the course of his community liaison duties at a café within his policing area. We found evidence that the PCSO used derogatory and discriminatory language against various LGBT groups in messages that he had sent on WhatsApp to the man. We also found that the PCSO agreed to obtain and sell Kamagra, an unauthorised medical product, to the man after he had asked the PCSO to obtain it on three separate occasions. 

Through our investigation we also found that between September 2020 and February 2021 he had inappropriate and sexual communication through the Grindr dating app with a 16-year-old boy. We found that the Sussex Police employee knew the boy was vulnerable due to his age and previous contact with Sussex Police as a regular missing person. The Sussex Police employee sent the boy a number of sexually explicit messages including videos of him masturbating. 

Our investigation concluded in October 2021, when we found that he had a case to answer for alleged breaches of the standards of professional behaviour in relation to honesty and integrity; instructions; discreditable conduct; authority, respect and courtesy; equality and diversity; and work and responsibilities.

On Tuesday (28 November) a disciplinary panel decided that gross misconduct was proven.

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: “Part of this PCSO’s job was to build trust and confidence in the police amongst LGBTQ+ people in Sussex. It is disgraceful that whilst in such a trusted role he sent sexually explicit material to a vulnerable teenager and bought unauthorised medication for another man. He also sent highly offensive derogatory messages to the man about parts of the LGBTQ+ community, conduct that was wholly unprofessional. 

“I welcome the panel’s finding which sends a robust message that this type of behaviour has no place in policing.”

During the investigation, we interviewed the PCSO, examined his phone and obtained statements from several witnesses, including the man and teenager he was in contact with. 

We referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in October 2021 but they did not bring any charges. 

  • Sussex Police
  • Corruption and abuse of power