Final warning for Somerset police officer who shared assault video

Avon and Somerset Police headquarters Image copyright Stephen Sumner
Image caption The warning was issued following a misconduct hearing at Avon and Somerset Police headquarters

A police officer who posted CCTV footage of an assault on social media has been given a final written warning.

A hearing heard the officer acted in a "moment of madness" when he shared the video with friends in a Facebook Messenger group in February.

The Avon and Somerset Police disciplinary panel said his "foolish" act amounted to gross misconduct.

The written warning was issued following the misconduct hearing held earlier in November. 

The 38-year-old officer, identified only as PC M, received the CCTV footage by text on his personal phone from the manager of the garage where the assault took place on the forecourt earlier that day.

The footage showed a man punched and knocked unconscious. 

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said the officer told the garage manager he would "sort it" but, instead of reporting the offence, shared the video clip to a Messenger group.

'Appalling judgment error'

The officer said he had recognised the assailant and shared the footage to try and find out who the victim was.

He said he deleted the video when reassured by the garage manager it was now in the hands of the police, and later confessed he had shared the video to a senior officer. 

In its written decision, the panel said at the misconduct hearing that while the original decision to upload the CCTV footage to Messenger was a "moment of madness", the later decision to delete it without checking it was with the police was "an appalling judgment error".

The panel said: "The public is entitled to expect that confidential and evidential material supplied to the police will remain in that condition unless authorised by a court."

They noted PC M was a long-serving officer with an "unblemished" record who confessed "reasonably early" .

"Weighing all of these matters into the balance our decision is that PC M will be served with a final written warning," they concluded. 

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