A CUMBRIAN police officer has been sacked for gross misconduct after visiting a woman for secret regular sexual “trysts” while on duty.
Barrow-based PC Matt Simpson admitted engaging in late night liaisons while the pair were involved in a “casual relationship” between 2014 and 2016 after meeting online.
PC Simpson, 29, insisted sexual encounters occurred around 15 times and only after shifts had finished.
But the woman, who hadn’t made a formal complaint, told a misconduct hearing in Penrith earlier this week there were “more than 20” visits by the officer – an aspiring detective – when he should have been working. He arrived, she said, wearing a hi-viz yellow jacket and equipped with a body camera, handcuffs, baton, spray and Taser device.
“It wasn’t a relationship everybody knew about. It was between me and him,” the female – known only as Miss X – said while giving evidence.
“He came around when he was on duty. He brought the police vehicle. He would turn his radio on loud when we were having sex in case his collar number got called out. He never answered it because it was never his name or collar number. It was just in case.”
“Sometimes he didn’t even take his pants off properly in case he had to rush off,” the woman continued, adding: “ I’ve got no reason to lie. I’ve got no reason to want to get him into trouble.”
PC Simpson, an officer with six years’ service who initially joined Cumbria police as a special constable, appeared before a three-strong disciplinary panel to face a string of allegations and stood accused of breaching the force’s standards of professional behaviour.
Members of the panel – comprising legally qualified chairman Nicholas Walker, a senior police officer and an independent lay person – were asked to determine, on the balance of probability, whether the breaches occurred after hearing evidence and considering a wealth of material.
The panel concluded it had found gross misconduct both in relation to PC Simpson’s on-duty sexual contact with Miss X, and searches he made for her on a police computer system in October, 2015, due to being “personally curious”.
“The positive character attributes of PC Simpson that we have observed in this hearing and that have been described in his testimonials are not such as to outweigh the panel’s confidence in Miss X as a truth teller,” Mr Walker stated.
“She had no reason to lie and we find that she did not. Leaving work on so many occasions is a serious dereliction of PC Simpson’s duties as an officer. He was paid to work and serve his community, not to do what he did with Miss X.
“The panel is satisfied that his conduct has discredited the police service, such that dismissal might be justified. The panel finds gross misconduct.”
The panel also found simple misconduct on the PC’s part in relation to police material retained on his phone and at a home address, and work images sent to his partner.
It heard, by contrast, of PC Simpson’s positive service to the force over a decade; heroic out-of-hours acts; and considered testimonials and certificates of merit, appreciation and service for work as a police officer and special constable.
But this morning (THURS), PC Simpson was dismissed without notice by the panel.
“Anything other than dismissal without notice would be inadequate and would fail to satisfy the purpose of these proceedings,” Mr Walker concluded. “It would be incomprehensible to the public and to his colleagues who were working in the middle of the night with one officer down while he and Miss X were enjoying their trysts.”
Cumbria Police’s Deputy Chief Constable, Mark Webster, said in response: “The officers and staff of Cumbria Constabulary are held to an extremely high standard of integrity and professionalism and, where this standard is not met, we will act.
“In this instance, it is clear that the actions of PC Simpson fell far below the standard we expect and he has rightfully been dismissed for gross misconduct as a result.
“The overwhelming majority of staff and officers who work each day on behalf of the people of Cumbria act in a way in which we can all be proud.
“I welcome today’s outcome and hope the result from this misconduct hearing displays to the public that where an officer or staff member fails to uphold the standards expected, they will be held accountable.
“I would like to thank the independent legally qualified chair and his panel for their diligence and thoroughness throughout the misconduct hearing this week.”
PC Simpson lived at Penrith while studying policing at the University of Cumbria between 2010 and 2013.