Northampton

Northamptonshire police officer Wendy Bruce sacked for drinking two bottles of wine

Northamptonshire Police HQ
Image caption The hearing, at Northamptonshire Police's Wootton Hall headquarters, was told PC Wendy Bruce had "undermined" the drink-driving message

A police officer has been sacked for drinking two bottles of wine the night before she drove into work.

Colleagues reported smelling alcohol on PC Wendy Bruce's breath.

A Northamptonshire Police disciplinary hearing heard PC Bruce, 49, would have been over the limit in the early morning, although she passed a test later in the day to avoid criminal prosecution.

However, the force argued she had "undermined" the drink-drive message.

PC Bruce admitted she had the two bottles before 22:30 BST on 20 October before getting up for work at 05:30 the next day and driving to Rushden Police Station.

'Risk to life'

A colleague reported her after she had been driven to Wellingborough and she was made to take a roadside breath test, which she failed.

However, when she was tested using legally-accurate equipment at about 09:22 BST, she was just under the limit.

David Ring, Northamptonshire Police solicitor, said: "It is commonsense from the roadside reading [that] she would have been above the legal limit.

"Police work hard to impress upon the public a consistent and clear message this conduct [drink-driving] cannot be tolerated - the officer who transgresses undermines this message."

PC Bruce, who had served with Northamptonshire since 2004, admitted misconduct, but argued it was not the sackable offence of gross misconduct.

Jim Kirkbright, representing her, said: "She did not disguise the intoxicants on her breath.

"She did not believe she had consumed so much alcohol [to be over the limit] by the time she was on duty."

Chief Constable Simon Edens found she had committed gross misconduct and said her actions were the "antithesis of what she, as a police officer, was on duty to do".

"Had she been asked to answer a 999 call, I can only assume she would have been driving a police car under the influence with all the obvious risk to life that entails," he said.

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