Northamptonshire PC's inaction left woman 'vulnerable' to ex-partner

Wootton Hall
Image caption Matthew Horton's disciplinary hearing was heard at Northamptonshire Police HQ at Wootton Hall

A former police officer left a woman "vulnerable" after failing to properly investigate messages threatening violence from her ex-partner.

Matthew Horton, then a Northamptonshire Police PC, had said the actions were "not a criminal matter".

He recorded it as a "civil dispute" but the ex-partner later pleaded guilty to criminal charges over the threats.

A disciplinary hearing at the force's headquarters at Wootton Hall found Mr Horton guilty of gross misconduct.

The hearing was told Mr Horton investigated a claim of harassment by the woman, on 20 October last year.

He visited her home, but reported it as property dispute in which "she had not got her own way, so claimed she had been harassed".

The victim called police later that evening to complain Mr Horton had not "taken her seriously", the hearing was told.

She explained the messages indicated her former partner - who later received a police caution for the offences - would "punch" her and "lay her out".

Mr Horton was asked to make a report of the messages but he did not contact the victim again, even though his entries on the police's computer stated he had.

'Compromised investigation'

In his report of the incident he described the woman as the aggressor and said she was "not frightened" by the messages.

David Tyme, chair of the disciplinary panel, said Mr Horton's account on the police computer system was "wholly inconsistent" with how the victim described events.

He said the delay investigating her ex-partner left her "potentially vulnerable to harm" and could have "compromised the investigation".

Mr Horton was also found to have made another false entry on the police's computer system while investigating a separate case of criminal damage.

He did not attend the hearing but previously "vehemently" denied the false entry and made no reference to the other case.

The panel described his actions as "untruthful" and said had he still been with the force he would have been dismissed.

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