Ex West Mercia PC admits racist posts mocking George Floyd

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James WattsImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
James Watts (right) pleaded guilty on Friday to 10 counts of sending a grossly offensive or menacing message by a public communication network

A former police officer has admitted sharing racist memes on WhatsApp mocking the death of George Floyd.

James Watts, a probationary officer with the West Mercia force at the time, posted them in a group that included colleagues at a Warwickshire prison.

The 31-year-old who admitted 10 counts on Friday was warned by Birmingham magistrates he could face jail.

He appeared alongside West Mercia PC Joann Jinks, who denied three counts of sharing the memes.

The pair were charged with sending grossly offensive or menacing messages by a public communication network in May and June in 2020.

Watts accepted in police interviews that the messages were racist in nature, the court heard.

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said it began investigating in June 2020 following a referral from the West Mercia force.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Watts will be sentenced next month

A Twitter user had claimed a serving policeman had posted racist memes, magistrates were told.

Prosecutor Richard Purchase said: "Mr Watts was a probationary police officer with West Mercia Police.

"Four of them [the memes] explicitly referred to George Floyd and the ongoing protests, and to some extent, mocked his death.

"The other six appear to be more general racist memes."

Watts, of Clifton Road, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, was released on unconditional bail ahead of being sentenced on 14 June.

Ms Jinks, 41, from Redditch, Worcestershire, was granted unconditional bail to appear for trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 23 August.

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