Police officer who grabbed colleague's breast at Xmas party sacked

Police officer who grabbed a senior colleague’s breast at a Christmas party is sacked – but his identity is kept secret to preserve his mother’s mental health

  • A disciplinary panel heard the female officer wanted to ‘create a bit of space’ 
  • The incident occurred at Kent Showground, Maidstone, in 2021
  • PC M reportedly told colleagues: ‘I want to see her drunk’ at the party

A police officer who grabbed a senior colleague’s breast at a Christmas party has been sacked – but his identity is being kept a secret to preserve his mother’s mental health.

This means his name will not enter the public record for the sexual assault. 

In 2021, the officer – who can only be named as PC M – attended a festive celebration at Kent Showground, Maidstone, with several other colleagues – including Ms A, the victim.

At a disciplinary hearing, it was heard that both officers were in other relationships at the time, and the female officer brought up that fact to ‘create a bit of space’ before the assault. 

The two Kent officers worked together and previously exchanged friendly texts when they were both single.

The incident happened at Kent Showground, Maidstone (pictured above). PC M admitted he touched Ms A on the breast but maintained he had a ‘reasonably held belief’ she had consented to it

But no messages of sexual nature were shared.

It was also heard that Ms A invited PC M to her house for a cup of tea five months prior to the party – when he was working a night shift – but PC M declined.

The night of the incident, at the Christmas party, it was heard that unlimited alcohol was served.

And prior to sexually assaulting Ms A, PC M told colleagues: ‘I want to see her drunk.’ 

Later in the evening the pair, who are both now in relationships, were waiting at the bar together in a marquee packed with police and members of the public.

But PC M’s proximity unsettled Ms A.

She then became even more uncomfortable when he placed his hand on her hip, it was heard.

The panel heard: ‘[PC M] was trying to almost have an intimate moment with her but she was not feeling the same way towards him.’

In order to create a boundary, Ms A struck up a conversation about their respective partners, although PC M did not appear dissuaded, and seemed to lean in closer to her. 

Ms A then gave the cop a “peck” on the lip, ‘So she could then pull away and create more space between them.’

Shockingly, the officer then raised his hand to the side of her body and to a part of her torso that was exposed by a cut-out in her dress.

He put his hand beneath her dress and onto her breast, brushing her nipple with his thumb for a few seconds.

Ms A then made a further comment about their new partners and returned to the dance floor.

Later, when her boyfriend picked her up, she informed him of the incident and reported it to a senior officer that night.

Following this, a criminal investigation was launched and this saw PC M be placed on restricted duties and removed from public-facing jobs.

Professional Standards Department’s probe concluded in March 2022 that there was not enough evidence for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Internal misconduct proceedings continued. 

PC M admitted he touched Ms A on the breast but maintained he had a ‘reasonably held belief’ she had consented to it.

However, she said: ‘There was nothing that I did that told [PC M] that what he did would be okay.

‘Regardless of the peck I gave him that is not a signal or authorisation to be groped. The peck wasn’t romantic and passionate and it wasn’t a snog or an intimate kiss.

‘Regardless of any actions I made, he had absolutely no right to do what he did.

‘I don’t expect my partner to treat me like that in a public place, let alone a colleague or anyone else. I would never go down somebody’s trousers so why did he think he could go inside my dress?

‘I consent to my partner touching me, but I would not consent to my partner touching me like [PC M] did in public.

‘Even if it was a more secluded public place, it would still not be appropriate, and this was in a huge marquee with hundreds of people including members of the public, which makes it even more unacceptable.’

Defending himself, PC M explained his version of events.

He said: ‘During this time our faces were close together and we were looking into each other’s eyes.

‘We then briefly kissed. I had moved my hand up higher on her side and I am relatively certain my thumb did caress her breast through an opening in the dress, although I cannot be sure that I touched her nipple.’ 

Following this, the Institute of Police Conduct panel ruled the kiss was neither romantic nor passionate.

They ruled the officer’s behaviour amounted to gross misconduct and dismissed him without notice, saying: ‘It did not justify PC M reaching with his thumb into Ms A’s dress and underneath her bikini inserts to touch her breasts and rub her nipple in a public bar.

‘The panel is therefore satisfied on a balance of probabilities that Ms A did not consent to PC M touching her breast and rubbing her nipple and that PC M did not reasonably believe that she was consenting.

‘This touching constitutes a sexual assault.’

It was agreed to anonymise PC M’s identity in a 93-page report to protect the mental health of his mother, who was said to be on suicide watch.

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