A police officer who avoided investigating a sexual assault by persuading the victim to say that the incident did not take place has been dismissed.
PC Steven Morris (CM070), 48, who was based with the investigations team at Crawley, appeared before a public gross misconduct hearing at Sackville House in Lewes on March 4 to answer allegations that he had failed in his duties and responsibilities as a result of the incident reported in Horsham.
The panel heard how PC Morris, who had served for 18 years, improperly pressurised a victim of a sexual assault into signing his pocket note book stating that no assault had taken place. Once the failing came to light, the offence was properly investigated.
Having considered the evidence, the panel, which was independently chaired, agreed that the allegations did amount to gross misconduct and PC Morris was dismissed without notice.
Detective Superintendent Steve Boniface, head of Sussex Police's Professional Standards Department, said: "We expect the highest possible standards of our officers and staff and we take any report of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously.
"PC Morris's behaviour was a violation of the trust that the public put in the police to serve and protect them. He failed the victim of this crime and let down his colleagues who carry out an enormous amount of good work with victims of serious offences every day. He let down Sussex Police and the people of Sussex."
Detective Chief Inspector David Springett from Sussex Police Public Protection Unit added: "Over the past four years, a lot of work has gone into the training and development of staff and we now have specialist Safeguarding Investigation Units (SIUs), which give our investigators in-depth knowledge and experience of investigating sexual offence cases, stalking and domestic abuse.
"Our response has been further enhanced within the last year by the introduction of our Sexual Offence Investigation Trained (SOIT) team, the first such unit in the country to include police staff and newcomers to the force as well as police officers. They act as a single point of contact for victims and are on hand to support victims throughout a criminal investigation from initial reporting right through to court proceedings and beyond.
"We take reports of crime seriously and confidentially and I would urge anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence, no matter when it happened, to report it to us."
Author: Andy Freeman
NEWSDESK NOTE: Kindly note that we have specified the officer's number as there are three officers of the same name in the force, one also based at Crawley.