Leicestershire police inspector fired over ‘deeply offensive’ sexualised posts about colleague

A former police inspector has been barred from the profession over “deeply offensive” social media posts. Ian Weston made a series of Facebook posts over a seven-week period in March and April last year about a colleague working under his command, a misconduct hearing found.

They were sexual in nature, and the panel overseeing the hearing branded them “demeaning”, “derogatory” and “really insulting to women”. The hearing accepted that Mr Weston did not intend them to be understood in that way, that he had written them to be “humorous” and to “make people laugh” and that he used humour as a coping mechanism.

The panel also said Mr Weston did not realise his female colleague, named only as Pc A in the hearing report, was upset, and “had no intention to hurt her in any way”. Mr Weston was “horrified that he did and showed genuine remorse for doing so”, the panel added.

READ MORE: Keith Vaz running for Leicester East MP seat he held for 32 years

The panel labelled Mr Weston's actions “naïve, foolish and wholly misguided”. It also acknowledged this was not the first time Mr Weston had been warned about his online conduct.

He had previously been spoken to twice about posts he had made, once in 2018 and once in 2020. He had also been sent a policy about appropriate social media use, the panel said. It added: “The officer may not have had specific training on issues such as sexual harassment but nobody should need training to know just how inappropriate these posts were. Many of the posts which the officer made were deeply offensive.

“They contain sexual innuendos and make comments which any individual, let alone an inspector in a police force, should have recognised were derogatory and really insulting to women. They should not have been made.

“They are particularly inappropriate as they were made at a time when police officers nationally were being subject to close scrutiny in respect of their attitudes to women.”

Pc A told the panel “she was uncomfortable” with the posts, but “did not feel she could say anything given the fact that the officer was an inspector and she was a Pc”. She added she had been “distressed” by them.

Pc A also accused Mr Weston of sending inappropriate messages to her. The messages, in April and May last year, suggested the two meet up outside of work. Pc A claimed Mr Weston was abusing his position as her superior.

However, the panel did not agree. It ruled the two had exchanged “numerous messages” on “many topics of mutual interest”. These were “friendly and often amusing exchanges” with “no sexualised language” and no power imbalance was evident. Mr Weston “never suggested a romantic meeting”, the panel added, and there “was nothing inappropriate with this conduct”.

Ultimately, the panel concluded: “The officer’s messages were not inappropriate but his postings on Facebook were wholly inappropriate actions for a serving police officer. He should have realised this at the time and was extremely naïve in not doing so.

“There was no malice in his actions but his actual actions were inexcusable. He should have recognised that the messages were deeply offensive.”

They recognised he had served with the force for 23 years and is “well-liked and respected” among his colleagues. He had also received “many recommendations” in his role which “reflect his valuable contribution over the years”, the force added.

The panel also acknowledged he “had considerable personal issues at the time and has had a difficult life” and “used humour to assist him with these issues”. His actions were deemed not to be “deliberate or malicious” but were “a gross misjudgement”.

However, the panel felt it had not choice but to dismiss him without notice due to the severity of his actions. Mr Weston will also be barred from the profession, the panel ruled.

Detective superintendent Alison Tompkins, head of the force’s Professional Standards Department, said: “The officer posted multiple messages which were offensive and derogatory. This was following the officer being advised previously about his behaviour. This is unacceptable behaviour which breaches standards of professional behaviour and which we will not tolerate within the force.”