Six officers in the Hampshire Police Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) have been found guilty of gross misconduct after their racist, sexist, homophobic comments were caught on tape.
Between March and April, 2018, secret recording equipment was set up in the unit, based in Basingstoke, after a staff member complained via the force’s confidential reporting system.
At a police misconduct hearing in October, 2020, it was revealed that six Hampshire Police officers, including two senior officers within the SOCU, had been recorded using racist, transphobic and homophobic slurs.
Accused of breaching professional standards, all six admitted misconduct, but denied gross misconduct.
The officers mocked LGBT+ people as “queers” and “horrible tranny faggots”, as well joking about migrants drowning, referring to a Black colleague as a “mixed breed” of dog with “forged Nigerian documents”, and called women as “sluts” and “whores”.
One officer was reportedly recorded joking about a Black colleague being “brought to England in a crate and deposited at London Zoo”.
Prosecuting at a hearing on 14 December, Jason Beer QC said: “Even though we have recordings for 24 days, we have enough racism and sexism to last a lifetime.”
On Friday (18 December), the six men – detective sergeant Oliver Lage, former PC Craig Bannerman, PC James Oldfield and trainee detective sargeant Andrew Ferguson, and senior officers detective inspector Tim Ireson and detective sergeant Gregory Wilcox – were found guilty of gross misconduct, according to the BBC.
A panel listed the many incidences of gross misconduct, including Ferguson sending a pornographic image of the royal family to colleagues, and Bannerman failing to challenge “the most serious” abuse.
As the verdict was read out, Oldfield interrupted the panel, saying: “Absolutely unbelievable… nonsense.”
Hampshire police said disciplinary action was also taken against a further 14 officers and staff members at the SOCU.
The force said that sanctions for the officers will be considered in January, 2021, at which time it would respond fully.
Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane said: “Hampshire Constabulary and I take, and have always taken, this matter very seriously.”