A police officer who broke lockdown rules to attend a house party, before crashing her car while more than twice over the alcohol limit, has accepted she committed gross misconduct.
PC Tasia Stephens crashed into a building less than two miles from the family event early on 26 April last year, and later failed a breathalyser test.
A South Wales Police misconduct hearing heard PC Stephens was off duty at the time she attended the party in Treorchy. Coronavirus rules at the time barred people in Wales from meeting with people they did not live with.
She attended despite having an "expectation to enforce the law and take action against members of the public who break them", case presenter Barney Branston told the hearing in Pencoed, Bridgend, on Monday.
PC Stephens “took the extraordinary decision to drive after she knew she’d been drinking” and gave “no thought to other road users”, he added.
The 24-year-old was said to have begun drinking that night after being informed of historic sex allegations against a family member. However, she left apparently in “good spirits,” Mr Branston said.
Her car was recognised just 500 metres away from the house by on-duty colleagues, who stopped her for a conversation. However, they had “no suspicion she was over the legal limit to drive,” the case presenter said.
"She carried on driving for around 1.6 miles before crashing into a building in the early hours," Mr Branston added.
Fellow officers found PC Stephens “extremely upset, saying she wanted to kill herself” and she made reference to the allegations against her family member.
PC Stephens failed a breath test at the crash site and later, at a police station, had 90mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – more than double the legal limit of 35mg.
She admitted driving under the influence at a Merthyr Tydfil magistrates’ court hearing last July, and was given a 12-month conditional discharge and banned from driving for 15 months.
PC Stephens’ actions reflected badly on South Wales Police, Mr Branston told Monday’s misconduct hearing, adding: “She chose to ignore the restrictions and undermined public confidence.”
The officer told the hearing she accepted attending the house party, driving when unfit, and being convicted in court. She further accepted the discreditable nature of each allegation and that taken together, they amounted to gross misconduct.
The case continues.
In January this year 31 Metropolitan Police officers broke the rules by having their hair cut by a professional barber at a London police station, and were fined £200 each. Two officers who organised the event faced misconduct proceedings.
Separately, nine Met officers were fined after eating together at a restaurant in the capital. Food businesses were only allowed to operate a takeaway service at the time.
Additional reporting by Press Association