A POLICE disciplinary panel has concluded that a former Cumbrian officer groped three female colleagues during a Christmas night out.
Ex-PC David Edwards and the three females were all off-duty when they attended a social festive outing of around 40 fellow staff members to bars in Ulverston in December, 2018. This was just weeks after Mr Edwards was served with a final written warning by the force following an alleged domestic assault.
Mr Edwards later resigned from the force in the wake of the December 2018 allegations, his 11-plus years of service officially being said to have ended yesterday.
Yesterday (MON) a disciplinary panel held a misconduct hearing and concluded after considering evidence that allegations made against the 50-year-old were proved.
The panel found Mr Edwards had become “extremely intoxicated” and that, inside one Ulverston bar, he grabbed the breast of one female – known only as officer A. She responded with an expletive and told him: “Don’t be stupid.”
In another bar, a second female – officer B – told how Mr Edwards “grabbed my bum”; while a third – officer C – reported he had deliberately grabbed her breast inside the same premises.
Mr Edwards made no comment when interviewed in connection with criminal proceedings which were not pursued. But in private messages to his boss 11 days after the incidents, Mr Edwards – who said he had no memory of the incidents – spoke of being “far too drunk” on the night, and “absolutely embarrassed, disgusted and ashamed by what I’ve done”.
In a conclusion delivered at the end of the hearing – which Mr Edwards did not attend – the panel concluded in respect of his behaviour towards the three women: “The touching was uninvited, unwarranted and it was inappropriate.”
The panel found Mr Edwards’ conduct amounted to gross misconduct. “This was repeated and sustained behaviour albeit over a short period of time,” the panel stated. “There is no mitigation for this behaviour. This is a case of sexual impropriety.”
The panel added: “Had PC Edwards still been a member of Cumbria police, he would have been dismissed. PC Edwards has a right of appeal to the police appeals tribunal.”
Following the hearing, a Cumbria Police Federation spokesman said: “The federation represent all rank and file officers for a wide variety of issues including, unfortunately, gross misconduct and criminal proceedings.
“This situation has been a very testing time for all involved. This includes the victims and officers who have provided written statements in relation to a colleague they worked closely with.
“The decision not to prosecute was based on the wishes of the victims who did not want to seek a prosecution. Those reasons are personal to those officers and the wishes of the victims have to be put first which indicates the lack of evidence for criminal proceedings.
“This process has been dealt with exactly in accordance with the Police Conduct and Performance Regulations 2012 which is passed in law. The hearing was conducted by a legally qualified independent chair with a panel and the outcome has been very carefully considered with all facts and circumstances taken into account.
“This has been a very difficult time for all involved and this demonstrates the stance taken when officers conduct themselves in such a manner. The situation is sad and disappointing but I’m glad to say it is rare and Cumbria Police work flat out day and night to look after the people and so much heroic good work is done every day that goes unheard and is overshadowed by one off incidents like this.”
A Cumbria police spokesman said: “Cumbria Constabulary is satisfied that a thorough criminal investigation was carried out based on the facts reported to us.
“The Constabulary treats all alleged offenders, victims and witnesses fairly, whether they are police officers, police staff or members of the public.”