Former Officer Sent Sexualised Messages To Vulnerable Woman

Former Officer Sent Sexualised Messages To Vulnerable Woman

By Samantha J9nes-

A Gross misconduct case has been proven against a former officer who sent ‘sexualised and lewd’ messages to vulnerable woman

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found PC John Kelham “persistently sought to persuade the woman to take their relationship further” and made it plain that he was “seeking intimate contact with her”.

He sent “sexualised and lewd” messages to the woman, who was a vulnerable victim of crime, and also sent “suggestive photographs” of himself, the IOPC said.

North Wales Police Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki said it was clear PC Kelham had a “total disregard towards authority and continued to abuse his position as a police officer”.

North Wales Police said during 2021 and 2022 former PC Kelham provided two untruthful written statements in respect of the investigation into his conduct and continued to have contact with the female despite being instructed to cease contact by a senior officer on two separate occasions.

PC Kelham resigned from North Wales Police this month.

A disciplinary hearing determined the former officer had breached standards of professional behaviour and would have been dismissed for gross misconduct had he not already resigned.

The IOPC investigation began in October 2021 after North Wales Police made a referral about the alleged conduct of PC John Kelham.

“PC Kelham had been involved in the police investigation of two separate incidents involving a woman, who was a vulnerable victim of crime, when it was alleged that he had proceeded to engage in an inappropriate personal or sexual relationship with her,” said the IOPC.

“During the course of our inquiries, we found evidence that PC Kelham persistently sought to persuade the woman to take their relationship further, requesting that she meet him on numerous occasions, as well as making plain that he was seeking intimate contact with her.

“In messages to the woman, he made many sexualised or lewd remarks, referred on multiple occasions to her appearance or clothing and sent her suggestive photographs of himself.”

At the end of its investigation in June 2022, the IOPC found that PC Kelham had a case to answer for gross misconduct, for inappropriate contact with a vulnerable woman he met through his duties.

Mr Debicki said: “Cases where officers have abused their position for sexual purposes are amongst the most serious matters that we investigate, and the conduct of this officer sadly fell way below what both the public and the force expects.

“It is clear from this former officer’s behaviour during the course of the initial IOPC investigation that he had a total disregard towards authority and continued to abuse his position as a police officer.

“Behaviour of this kind undermines the efforts of the majority of people who work for North Wales Police to build and retain the trust and confidence of our communities.

“The public has a right to expect police officers to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and that those who fail to do so are investigated and dealt with robustly.

“As I have said before we take a zero-tolerance approach to matters of this kind, and there is no place for anyone who displays this kind of behaviour in North Wales Police.”

The deputy chief constable added: “I would like to apologise to the victim who displayed great courage in speaking out about her experience. I am grateful to her for this.

“I hope that we have demonstrated with this and other recent cases that we are determined to stamp out this kind of behaviour and that anyone with concerns of this nature can be confident to speak to us knowing it will be taken seriously and dealt with.”

Investigating officer Mike Williams said: “We are extremely grateful to the victim in this case who had the courage to engage with us about her experience with former PC Kelham. Likewise, we are also thankful to a number of other witnesses within the community who supported the investigation, which greatly assisted us in meticulously piecing together what had happened.”

IOPC Director David Ford said such behaviour “will not be tolerated and has no place in policing”.

He said: “Police officers are expected to conduct themselves professionally at all times and are rightly held to certain standards when it comes to their interactions with members of the public.”

“Where an officer has used their position to pursue a sexual or improper emotional relationship with a member of the public, this represents an abuse of authority for sexual gain. Such conduct can cause substantial damage to public trust and confidence in the police and is particularly serious where the subject of the officer’s behaviour is targeted towards a vulnerable person.’

“Our independent investigation concluded that the officer in this case abused his position by actively pursuing an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable woman and the outcome of today’s hearing serves to highlight that such behaviour will not be tolerated and has no place in policing.”

Mr Kelham will now be placed on the police barred list.

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