Shropshire Star

Second West Mercia Police officer in a week barred for relationships with vulnerable women

An ex-police constable who pursued a sexual relationship with a vulnerable woman has been barred from working for the police, days after another officer was also barred for inappropriate conduct.

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Former West Mercia Police constable Jonathan Townsend, 41, faced allegations of gross misconduct after being accused of having inappropriate contact with three vulnerable women he met through his policing duties, two of whom were sexual assault victims.

Between November and December 2019, he was alleged to have formed an inappropriate relationship with a woman, with whom he engaged in text messaging and video calls of a sexual nature on his force issue mobile phone.

In the same timeframe, he allegedly asked for and received sexualised images on his work phone from another woman whom he then engaged in sexual activity with. In January 2020, he exchanged unprofessional texts with another woman on his work phone.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) began an investigation in October 2020 following a referral about the officer’s conduct from West Mercia Police. Investigators interviewed the officer and two of the women involved and analysed the Pc’s mobile phone.

The investigation ended in April 2021, and the IOPC concluded that Pc Townsend had a case to answer for gross misconduct. He resigned from the force in November.

A police disciplinary hearing, led by an independent, legally qualified chair, on Monday found that ex-PC Townsend, who had been part of the South Worcestershire Policing Area, had breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour in a number of areas including authority, respect and courtesy, and discreditable conduct. The panel decided he would have been dismissed had he still been serving.

Last week it was announced that another former West Mercia Police officer, Pc Michael Harrison, 33, was dismissed after he was found to have had inappropriate relationships with vulnerable women.

Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss said: “This is the second such case to be heard in West Mercia Police in the past week, and the outcome reaffirms our commitment to rid our force, and the whole police service, of corrupt officers.

"We will not accept this behaviour in our force. It is a form of serious corruption and we are working with vigour to eradicate it.

"Jonathan Townsend has been added to the College of Policing Barred List."

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: “Former PC Townsend took advantage of vulnerable women and the kind of behaviour he demonstrated has absolutely no place in policing.

"Abuse of position for sexual purpose is a form of serious corruption and damages public confidence in the police. This outcome imposed by the police disciplinary panel should provide a clear message to any officer who misconduct themselves in such a way, that they face serious consequences and will be held to account.”

Mr Townsend will now be barred from working for the police service again.

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