Update on investigation into allegations of sharing offensive messages among Gwent Police officers
Our investigation into the conduct of a number of Gwent Police officers over allegations of sharing offensive messages is continuing. Since our enquiries began, we have analysed a considerable volume of data downloaded from Ricky Jones’ phone and have served notices on eleven current or former Gwent Police officers to indicate that their conduct is under investigation.
After careful assessment of material we have reviewed, in respect of the allegation of sending offensive messages we have served gross misconduct notices on two current and two former police officers. We have also issued a notice at misconduct level on a serving officer. The notices relate to offensive or inappropriate messages discovered on the phone of deceased former officer, Ricky Jones. Such notices advise officers their conduct is subject to investigation and do not necessarily mean any disciplinary charges will follow.
We have also served notices at the level of misconduct on a further four Gwent Police officers, three serving and one former, who have been identified as being involved in a WhatsApp group where messages were shared. We are examining allegations that they failed to challenge or report inappropriate messages sent by colleagues.
In addition, two serving officers are under criminal investigation for the alleged unauthorised disclosure of police information to Ricky Jones after he had left Gwent Police. These two officers have been served with gross misconduct notices. They are not being investigated over offensive messages.
IOPC Director David Ford said: “Our investigation is examining the exchange of messages, unauthorised sharing of police information, and whether any serving officers failed to challenge or report the conduct of their colleagues. The officers who are subject to investigation range from police constable to inspecting ranks. We will keep the involvement of any other officers under review as any further information comes to light.
“We are also investigating when Gwent Police became aware of Ricky Jones’ family’s concerns about the messages and what steps the force took to explore them.
“We will progress the investigation as swiftly as possible, but given the number of officers and the non-recent nature of the alleged conduct, enquiries will take some time.”
A separate Wiltshire Police investigation is ongoing into a series of complaints from the family of Ricky Jones. This relates to Gwent Police’s handling of its investigation into his death and officers’ contact with his relatives.