Dorset Police

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Dorset Police
MottoA safe county for everyone
Agency overview
Formed1 April 1974
Preceding agencies
  • Dorset County Constabulary
  • Bournemouth Borough Police
  • Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary
Employees3,071
Annual budget£211.1 million (2018-2019)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionDorset, England, United Kingdom
Map of police area
Size1,024 square miles (2,650 km2)[2]
Population774,000[2]
Legal jurisdictionEngland & Wales
Constituting instrument
General nature
Operational structure
Overseen by
HeadquartersWinfrith
Constables1,383 (of which 111 are special constables)[3]
Police Community Support Officers123[3]
Police and crime commissioner responsible
Agency executive
Facilities
Stations24
Notables
Anniversary
  • 50 years of Dorset Police (01 April 2024)
Website
www.dorset.police.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Dorset Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the county of Dorset in South West England, which includes the largely rural area covered by Dorset Council, and the urban conurbation of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

The force covers an area of 1,024 square miles (2,650 km2) with a population of 774,000.

History[edit]

Dorset County Constabulary was formed in 1856. In 1965, it had an establishment of 544 and an actual strength of 466.[4] On 1 October 1967, it merged with Bournemouth Borough Police to form Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary.[5]

On 1 April 1974, this force took over some areas (mainly Christchurch and its hinterland) from Hampshire Constabulary and acquired its present name of Dorset Police.

Chief constables[edit]

Dorset Constabulary[edit]

Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary[edit]

  • 1967–1974 Arthur Hambleton[7]

Dorset Police[edit]

  • 1974–1980 Arthur Hambleton[7]
  • 1981–1982 David Owen[8]
  • 1982– 1995 Brian Weight
  • 1995–1998 D. W. Aldous[9]
  • 1999–2004 Jane Stichbury[10][11][12]
  • 2005–2012 Martin Baker[12][13]
  • 2012–2018 Debbie Simpson[13][14]
  • 2018–2021 James Vaughan[14]
  • 2021–2023 Scott Chilton[15]
  • 2023–present Amanda Pearson[16]

The current Chief Constable, Amanda Pearson, started her role on 1 March 2023, after previous Chief Constable Scott Chilton moved to the same role in Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary. She is the third female Chief Constable of Dorset Police, after Jane Stichbury and Debbie Simpson. Pearson started her policing career in 1993 and has worked at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, Hertfordshire Constabulary, the City of London Police and Thames Valley Police, before joining the Metropolitan Police, where she worked as a Chief Officer. Whilst here, Pearson was the spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police's tactic of officers being able to knock moped thieves off their bikes. Pearson was also the programme lead for the Police Plan of Action on Inclusion and Race, a role in which in 2021, she stated that she had 'never seen' an officer being racist, whilst she was working in the Metropolitan Police.[17][18][19][20]

Governance[edit]

Dorset Police was formerly responsible to the Dorset Police Authority, which was replaced in 2012 by the elected Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). The first PCC was independent Martyn Underhill MBE, who served between 22 November 2012 and 12 May 2021. As of May 2021, the PCC is David Sidwick, who represents the Conservative Party.

Police area and other forces[edit]

The force covers an area of 1,024 square miles (2,650 km2) with a population of 774,000,[2] which increases in the tourist season. In 2022, Dorset Police received 121,798 emergency calls on 999.[21]

In 2023, Dorset Police:[22]

  • Received 323,000 contacts from 999, 101, online and in person
  • Attended 57,489 incidents
  • Made 8,500 arrests
  • Located 4,392 missing people

Officers in Dorset have legal jurisdiction throughout all of England and Wales, including areas that have their own special police forces, as do all police officers of territorial police forces (as per Section 30 of the Police Act 1996).[23] Officers also have limited powers in Scotland and Northern Ireland (as per Section 137 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994).[24]

Other police services work alongside Dorset Police in the county. This includes the British Transport Police (BTP), who are responsible for policing of the rail network in Great Britain.[25] Their office for Dorset is at Bournemouth railway station.[26]

Dorset Police Patch

Port of Portland Police is a non-Home Office ports police force within Dorset that is responsible for the Port of Portland. In July 2020, the Port Police agreed a memorandum of understanding with Dorset Police to involve the sharing of assets, improving communication and allowing the collation of information.[27]

Operations[edit]

Air Operations Unit[edit]

Since 2014, air support has been provided by National Police Air Service (NPAS).[28] Its nearest helicopter is based at Bournemouth Airport and also support Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, South Wales, Dyfed-Powys and Gwent.[29]

Criminal Investigation Department[edit]

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) provides advice to all policing units on crime-related matters and maintaining a corporate approach to reducing crime, as well as providing specialist and investigative roles. CID is split into numerous sub-departments, which include: Child Protect Investigation, Intelligence Directorate, Scientific Support.[30]

Dog Section[edit]

The Dog Section was established in 1953; the unit is based in Eastern Division HQ in Ferndown. The unit comprises one inspector, one sergeant, 13 constables and 22 dogs, including general purpose German Shepherds and more specialist breeds.[31]

Marine Policing Unit[edit]

The Marine Unit is responsible for policing the 89 miles of Dorset's coastline and up to 12 miles out to sea. The area is one of the busiest coastal areas in the UK, including two of the busiest ports, numerous shipping lanes, thousands of private moorings, the RNLI's busiest callout area and a training centre for the Royal Marines.[32]

Ports Policing Unit[edit]

The Ports Policing Unit is responsible for policing all ports in Dorset including Poole Harbour, Swanage Harbour, Portland Harbour, Weymouth Harbour, Christchurch Harbour and Bournemouth Airport.[33][34]

Roads Policing Unit[edit]

The force is responsible for policing road across the county. There are no motorways located within Dorset. Dorset Police have around 450 vehicles, from 20 different manufacturers, and drive a total of 7.5 million miles a year.[35][36] The Roads Policing Unit also features the following teams:

Teams within the RPU include No Excuse Team, launched in 2010, which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on Dorset roads;[37] and the Interceptor Team, launched in 2023, which targets criminals using the road network within Dorset.[38]

Tactical Firearms Unit[edit]

The Tactical Firearms Unit responds to major and serious crimes where firearms are involved.[39]

Locations[edit]

The force headquarters is at Winfrith. Police stations open to the public are located at Blandford, Bournemouth Central, Bridport, Gillingham, Poole, Sherborne, Swanage and Weymouth.

Stations without a public front desk are Boscombe, Dorchester, Ferndown, Shaftesbury, Sturminster Newton, Verwood, Wareham, Wimborne and Winton.[40]

There are two custody suites at Bournemouth Central and Weymouth Police station.[41][42][43][44]

In September 2017, the Christchurch Neighbourhood Policing Team moved to the fire station on Fairmile, further advancing the relationship with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.[45]

Station Public front desk Custody suite Notes
Blandford The front desk to the police station reopened on 27 March 2023[46]
Boscombe Closed in 2012, then again in 2016, the station reopened in October 2023 as an 'operational base' for officers[47]
Boscombe Hub Opened in late 2015 to station officers from the Boscombe Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT)[48]
Bournemouth Opened in late 2010, the station and cells moved from the old site on the opposite side of the road, which closed in 2011[48]
Beaminster Beaminster Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), moved out of the station and into the community fire station in May 2016.[49]
Bridport
Christchurch (now at the Fire Station) The original Christchurch police station closed to the public on 1 March 2015 due to 'budget cuts'.[50] The station closed fully in September 2017. Since that time, officers from Christchurch's Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) are based in an office situated below Christchurch Fire Station.[48]
Dorchester The original buildings of the station date to 1861.[51] The front desk closed on 1 March 2015 due to 'budget cuts'.[50]
Ferndown In 2015, in a bid to save £700,000, Dorset Police attempted to sell Ferndown Police Station. The site was listed for £6m, however, as of 2024, it has not been sold.The station, alongside Weymouth, it also is home to the Dog Section.[52][53]
Gillingham
Highcliffe Closed in 2011, replaced by residential housing.[48]
Lyme Regis Open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the front desk to the police station reopened on 30 May 2023[46]
Poole ✓* After the station at the Civic Centre closed in 2009, the current station opened on 17 December 2009.[54]*Whilst there is a custody suite, this closed in the summer of 2011, as part of cost-cutting measures. The cells are kept in a permanent state of readiness for times when there is high demand.[55] Poole custody is used when Bournemouth custody undergoes a deep clean at the end of each year. Another police station in the Gravel Hill area of Poole closed in October 2012.[48]
Shaftesbury The front desk closed on 1 March 2015 due to 'budget cuts'.[50]
Sherborne
Sturminster Newton
Swanage Opened in 1899, the station closed to the public in 2012.[48] The front desk reopened in August 2023.[56]
Verwood In an attempt to save £500,000, Verwood's front desk was closed in Summer 2014.[57][50]
Wareham The front desk closed on 1 March 2015 due to 'budget cuts'.[50]
Weymouth The station, alongside Ferndown, is also home to the Dog Section.[52]
Weymouth East
Wimborne In an attempt to save £500,000, Wimborne's front desk was closed in Summer 2014.[57][50]
Winton The front desk closed on 1 March 2015 due to 'budget cuts'.[50]

Ranks[edit]

Dorset Police uses the standard British police ranks, indicated by epaulettes, up to Chief Constable. Special Constable's collar numbers begin with either the number '3' or '4' and consist of four numbers.

Insignia[edit]

Dorset Police's officer rank structure, with epaulette design, is as follows (from highest to lowest):

Uniforms and equipment[edit]

A Dorset Police officer in Ensbury Park, Bournemouth. Since 1863, the custodian helmet has been worn by male police constables and sergeants while on foot patrol.

Uniform[edit]

In 2012, Dorset Police officers moved from blue shirts to black wicking tops (PCSOs wear blue wicking tops). They either wear hi-visibility or black tactical vests on top of body armour.[58][59][60][61]

Equipment[edit]

Dorset Police use Motorola MXP600 TETRA digital radios (these were updated in 2023 from the previous Motorola MTH800 TETRA digital radios). They also use rigid handcuffs, limb restraints, telescopic batons and incapacitant spray.[62]

Some officers carry the Conducted Energy Device (CED) Axon TASER, a non-lethal electroshock weapon used to incapacitate targets via shocks of 50,000 volts.[62] As of 2021, there were 374 officers trained in using TASER.[21]

Firearms officers carry a Heckler & Koch G36 rifle and the Glock 17 pistol as their sidearm.[63]

Some officers are trained in the use of 'stinger' (also known as a spike strip), that slowly releases air from tyres of a vehicle when it goes over it.[64]

Vauxhall Astra pictured in 2020

Vehicles[edit]

Previously, Dorset Police Transport Services manage the force's 450 vehicles, across its divisional units, road policing unit, and armed response.[65] However, in 2016, Dorset's Fleet Services aligned with Devon & Cornwall's as part of a proposed force merger.[66] As a result, there are now seven workshops available across the three counties, and Dorset manages and maintains approximately 500 vehicles as part of 'Alliance Fleet Services'.[66]

As of 2020, Dorset Police had 429 vehicles which included 338 cars, 83 vans and 8 motorcycles.[21] Examples of the vehicle makes and models that Dorset Police have used or currently use include vehicles made by Vauxhall, Ford and Mercedes.[67]

Performance[edit]

British Crime Survey[edit]

The British Crime Survey for 2010 found that there was an overall fall in crime in Dorset by 2.5%, and the largest fall in crime was robbery, which fell by 20%, making Dorset Police the eighth best performing force out of 43 in England and Wales, and first in forces similar to Dorset.[68]

The performance figures from Dorset Police comparing April to December 2009 with the same period during 2008, showed a 9.9% drop in burglary, an 8.5 per cent drop in criminal damage, a 3.5 per cent fall in vehicle crime, a 3% drop in total violent crime, and a 17.8 per cent fall in the most serious violent crime. Criminal damage fell by 5.8%, violence against the person without injury by 9.3%, violence against the person by 5.2%, drug offences by 5.1% and there was a 2.8 per cent fall in total recorded crime.[69]

According to the British Crime Survey, 63.8 per cent of people think Dorset Police deals with local concerns, making Dorset the best performing force in England and Wales for that issue.

Some 9.9% of people say there is a high level of perceived anti-social behaviour, making Dorset the eighth best performing force in England and Wales – and the top performing force among its family of five most similar forces. Some 17.6% of people said there was a big problem with drugs while 18.8 per cent of people in Dorset said there was a big problem with drunk and rowdy behaviour. 51.6% of people in Dorset agreed that the police and local councils were dealing with issues, making Dorset the twelfth best performing force in England and Wales.[70][71]

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary[edit]

In 2010, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services since 2017) (HMICFRS) graded Dorset Police overall as 'fair' on local crime and policing, protection from serious harm, confidence and satisfaction. In detail they were graded as 'fair' at neighbourhood policing, neighbourhood presence and solving crime. They were rated as 'good' at reducing crime. They were graded 'excellent' at suppressing gun crime, suppressing knife crime, comparative satisfaction of the BME community, confidence in the police and proportion of police cost met by council. They were scored 'poor' and 'stable' on reducing road death and injury.[72]

PEEL inspection[edit]

HMICFRS conducts a periodic police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) inspection of each police service's performance. This is judged as follows:

- Effectiveness: Reducing crime and keeping people safe

- Efficiency: How the force operates and how sustainable its services are to the public

- Legitimacy: How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce

In its latest PEEL inspections, Dorset Police were rated as follows (ungraded means that it wasn't given a score, not that it was necessarily un-markable):[73][74]

Rating Outstanding ●●●● Good

●●●○

Adequate

●●○○

Requires Improvement

●○○○

Inadequate

○○○○

Ungraded
Year
2014 _ - Reducing crime and preventing offending

- Tackling anti-social behaviour - Force is efficient - Steps taken to ensure a secure financial position for the short and long term - An affordable way of providing policing

_ - Investigating offending _ - Protecting those at greatest risk of harm

- Tackling serious, organised and complex crime - Meeting commitments under the Strategic Policing Requirement - Workforce acts with integrity - Public perceptions of the force - Responds to calls for service appropriately - Data and information provided by the force is of high quality

2015 _ - Preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe

- Investigating crime and managing offenders - Protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims - Tackling serious and organised crime, including arrangement for fulfilling national policing responsibilities - Uses resources to meet demand - Practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture - Understands, engages with and treats members of the public fairly, maintaining and improving its legitimacy - Decisions taken to use stop and search and Taser are fair and appropriate

_ - Workforce model is sustainable and affordable

- Financial position for the short and long term is sustainable

_ _
2016 _ - Preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe

- Investigating crime and reducing re-offending - Protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims - Tackling serious and organised crime - Understands current and likely demand - Uses resources to meet current demand - Plan for demand in the future - Treating the public with fairness and respect - Behaviour of workforce is ethical and lawful - Force treats its workforce with fairness and respect

_ _ _ _
2017 _ - Preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe

- Investigating crime and reducing re-offending - Protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims - Tackling serious and organised crime - Understands demand and uses resources to meet demand - Plan for demand in the future - Treating the public with fairness and respect - Behaviour of workforce is ethical and lawful - Force treats its workforce with fairness and respect

_ _ _ _
2018/19 _ - Preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe

- Investigating crime and reducing re-offending - Protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims - Tackling serious and organised crime - Using resources to meet demand - Plan for the future - Treating the public with fairness and respect - Behaviour of workforce is ethical and lawful

_ _ _ _
2021/22 _ - Preventing crime

- Developing a positive workplace

- Treatment of the public

- Protecting vulnerable people - Managing offenders - Good use of resources

- Investigating crime

- Responding to the public

_ _

In December 2014, Dorset Police was criticised during a review by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) for the way they investigated offences, with a backlog of cases in the Safeguarding Referral Unit. The report from that year found that whilst crime had continued to fall at a greater rate in Dorset than England and Wales, levels of victim satisfaction were slightly below average for some crimes.[75]

In November 2022, a report by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) was published about Dorset Police and seven other forces into their standards of vetting. It uncovered that due to poor vetting standards there could be 'hundreds, if not thousands, of corrupt police officers serving in England and Wales'.[76]

Controversies[edit]

Between 2018 and 2023, 32 officers were disciplined for misconduct:[77]

The rank of the officer involved
Rank 18/19 19/20 20/21 21/22 22/23
Constable 6 7 6 3 5
Sergeant 0 0 1 0 2
Inspector or above 0 2 0 0 0
Total 6 9 7 3 7
The disciplinary action taken as a result of the misconduct
Outcome 18/19 19/20 20/21 21/22 22/23
Dismissal Without Notice 2 2 1 0 1
Dismissed 0 0 2 0 1
Final Written Warning 2 2 1 0 1
Resigned - Would have been Dismissed 0 2 0 1 3
Written Warning 2 3 3 2 1
Total 6 9 7 3 7

Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) involvement[edit]

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is a non-departmental public body in England and Wales which, since 8 January 2018, is responsible for overseeing the system for handling complaints made against police forces in England and Wales. On 8 January 2018, it replaced the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Dorset Police, as an organisation as well as individual officers, have been investigated by both these departments. Between January 2017 and August 2022, there were 190 referrals from Dorset to the IOPC.[78]

A referral must be made to the IOPC by a police force, if the incident meets any of the following criteria:[79]

  • A Death or Serious Injury (DSI) matter, where someone has died or been seriously injured following contact with an officer
  • A serious assault by an officer
  • A serious sexual assault by an officer
  • Serious corruption by an officer
  • A criminal offence committed by an officer or behaviour which is liable to lead to a disciplinary sanction and which in either case was aggravated by discriminatory behaviour
  • Any relevant offence, i.e., an offence for which the sentence is fixed by law, or an offence for which a person aged 18 years or over (not previously convicted) may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of seven years (or might be so sentenced but for the restrictions imposed by Section 33 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980).
Month Reason for IPCC/IOPC involvement Outcome Notes
October 2004 Death after police contact
  • Fine of 13 days' pay for neglect in performance of duties - (the maximum under then legislation) (Inspector)
  • Reprimanded - neglect in the performance of duties (Sergeant)
  • Written warning - neglect in the performance of duties (Sergeant)
  • Final written warning for gross misconduct (two civilian detention officers)
  • Resigned before disciplinary hearing (civilian detention officer)[80]
On 12 October 2004, 51-year-old Tony Davis died at Poole Custody. Davis died of hypothermia, having been previously seen lying in a foetal position in a shelter by the sea in Swanage. Davis, who was on the seaward side of the shelter, had been soaked by the sea spray, in weather that was described as 'very cold'. Police attended the scene and the control room also requested an ambulance, however, officer's cancelled the ambulance, arrested Davis and taking him to custody at Poole Police Station. On arrival at custody, Davis wasn't given any medical examination and at 10:30 GMT, when he was placed in a cell, remained in his wet clothing; a breach of Dorset Police's own custody policy. Under the management of the IPCC, an investigation was conducted by Hampshire Constabulary. It discovered that civilian detention officers falsified custody record entries, resulting in three detention officers facing a disciplinary hearing for gross misconduct. The duty custody Inspector and one Sergeant faced a misconduct hearing, with another Sergeant receiving a written warning. The IPCC concluded the investigation in 2007, determining that Davis had not been supervised, treated or cared for whilst he was detained, contrary to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and Dorset Police's procedure.[81]
December 2006 Death after police contact No further action On 5 December 2006, a 13-year-old student was struck off his bike in Talbot Avenue by a police car on its way to an emergency. He spent three weeks in a coma and required 24-hour care. Whilst the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concluded that the driver was not at fault, in 2010, the student was awarded 'substantial damages' by Dorset Police, who settled out of court after a High Court writ was issued in October 2009 that claimed the driver of the vehicle was 'travelling too fast with poor lighting and limited visibility'.[82]
July 2008 Mistaken identity of male who was subject to an armed stop and arrest No further action - an independent review of firearms procedures confirmed that “the deployment and tactics used during the incident were correct in all the circumstances.”[83] On 5 July 2008, Hampshire Constabulary received a report that a man or group of men were involved in an incident with an imitation firearm at Basingstoke Shopping Centre. A plain-clothes British Transport Police officer mistakenly identified 21-year-old Nzube Udezue, seeing him travelling on the 17:24 GMT train from Southampton to Bournemouth, where he alerted the control room that 'the gunman is on the train'. At 18:09 GMT, after the train arrived at Bournemouth Railway Station, armed officers from Dorset Police pointed guns at Udezue, ordering him to lie on the ground of the platform, before arresting him on suspicion of a firearms offence. He was taken to Bournemouth Custody, where he was released when it was determined his identity had been mistaken. A senior officer visited Udezue and an apology was made, as well as a family liaison officer being appointed, with the incident having made Udezue 'shocked, confused, scared and embarrassed all at the same time.' Dorset Police voluntarily referred the incident to the IPCC, who deemed that the actions of Dorset Police were 'appropriate and proportionate to the circumstances'. The IPCC decided to supervise Dorset Police's internal enquiry, requesting that Dorset Police's Professional Standards Department (PSD), investigated their force's, Hampshire Constabulary's and the British Transport Police's response to the incident.[84][85][86][87]
September 2009 Serious injury after police contact No further action - the IPCC investigated the matter and upheld a complaint relating to the matter, however, no prosecutions were brought.[88] On 6 September 2009, it was alleged that an arrested male had been 'pushed around' until he fell over, suffering concussion, whilst at Weymouth Custody. The incident was alleged to have happened off camera, before the arrested male was seen to be 'dragged unconscious to a cell', before being strip searched, instead of an ambulance being called.[88]
October 2009 Death after police contact Unknown On 28 October 2009, 22-year-old Matthew Lovell went missing from Herbert Hospital, Westbourne, where he was receiving treatment and support for mental health issues. Police located him on a nearby beach and he was detained under the Mental Health Act. Lovell was transported in the back of a police van to St Ann's Hospital, a mental-health hospital, to receive a mental health assessment. However, when they arrived, they discovered Lovell, collapsed in the back of the police van. He was taken to Poole Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. At a post-mortem at Winchester Hospital, Lovell's cause of death couldn't be established, with no significant external injuries. The IPCC managed an investigation into his death.[89]
June 2011 Death after police contact Dismissal PC Richard Allen was dismissed after it was discovered that he'd had a relationship with a murder victim, who had also been victim to domestic abuse. Katarzyna Ryba was stabbed and then thrown out the window of her second-floor flat in Bournemouth by her ex-partner Piotr Zasada, in front of their three-year-old daughter in October 2009. Zasada was later sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 14 years and 62 days. Allen had been assigned to a case involving Ryba and Zasada, due to him continuing to threaten and stalk her, despite a harassment order being in place. Allen and Ryba began an affair. Later, she was murdered by her jealous ex-partner (Zasada had heard about Ryba's new relationships, but didn't know Allen was a police officer). An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation uncovered that Allen had deleted text's from Ryba after he learned she had died. The investigation found Allen and other officers had failed in the handling of Ryba's domestic abuse allegations (although her eventual murder was not directly impacted by this). Allen also carried out 'unauthorised searches on the police computer', leading to a further investigation.[90][91]
December 2011 Death after police contact No further action - The IPCC investigation concluded in 2013, clearing the officers involved, detailing that the officer's decision to pursue the vehicle, concluding that it may have been involved in 'illegal activities', was 'proportionate'. At approximately 01:52 GMT on 18 December 2011, police identified a Volkswagen Golf in Clump Hill, that they believed had been involved in making off from a petrol station without paying for fuel on the previous evening. On attempting to stop the vehicle, it made off, resulting in a police pursuit. During the pursuit, the vehicle collided with the roadside. 18-year-old Steven Brown was taken to Poole Hospital, where he died as a result of the crash. The IPCC investigated the incident, determining that a control room operator, who was meant to be in control of the pursuit, had not been given proper pursuit training, with Dorset Police having to take responsibility for the failing. It meant they were 'not in control' of the pursuit, with audio recordings showing how another operator intervened to ensure the correct actions were followed.[92][93][94]
July 2012 Death after police contact No further action At approximately 22:10 GMT on 7 July 2012, 67-year-old Rosemary Snell and 72-year-old Michael Rolfe, were in a car that was crushed by a landslip at the entrance to Beaminster Tunnel on the A3066. On initial examination of the scene, police stated there was no sign of their car and for nine days, their mud-filled car was undiscovered under hundred of tonnes of debris. Dorset Police were criticised for failing to find the bodies sooner and the case was voluntarily referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to be reviewed, but the IPCC subsequently declined to open an investigation.[95][96][97]
October 2012 Misconduct Unknown In October 2012, it was reported that an unnamed officer had been arrested on suspicion of theft of police mobiles, with the matter being referred to the IPCC who supervised Dorset Police's investigation (although another member of police staff was arrested for the same offence, the incidents were not connected).[98]
October 2012 Misconduct Unknown In October 2012, it was reported that an unnamed member of police staff had been arrested on suspicion of theft of police mobiles, with the matter being referred to the IPCC who supervised Dorset Police's investigation (although another police officer was arrested for the same offence, the incidents were not connected).[98]
December 2015 Death after police contact No investigation launched[99] At approximately 02:20 GMT on 29 December 2015, a 21-year-old man's car collided with an electricity pole in Purbeck, snapping it in half. The man died from his injuries. Dorset Police notified the IPCC, as at the time of the collision, a marked Ford Focus police vehicle was in the vicinity.[100]
January 2016 Death after police contact
  • Final written warning (Detective Constable)
  • Management advice (Sergeant)
In January 2016, Katrina O'Hara was stabbed to death at her workplace by her former lover, Stuart Thomas. In December 2015, police had seized her phone, leaving her without this to call for help. The IOPC found three officers had cases to answer for gross misconduct. Allegations of misconduct were proven against three officers, with a final written warning being issued to a Detective Constable and management advice given to a Sergeant for 'not following procedures'. Dorset Police faced recommendations from the IOPC to improve their response to domestic violence and harassment cases.[101][102]
August 2016 Death after police contact Learning In August 2016, Sharon Perrett was murdered by her partner Daniel O'Malley-Keyes. The IOPC investigated Dorset Police's contact with Perrett before she died. Perrett had been a domestic abuse victim at the hands of O'Malley-Keyes prior to her murder. As a result of this, Dorset Police had attempted to contact her about a recent incident, attempting to call her for three weeks, but stopped calling because 'her phone was off'. Attending her home was ruled out, as not to alert O'Malley-Keyes of police involvement and put Perrett at risk. The IOPC investigation revealed that whilst police action was 'in line with established practices and procedures', with 'genuine attempts' by phone being made to contact Perrett, 'alternative methods to contact her were ruled out'. Dorset Police changed its policy on contacting domestic violence victims using 'alternative methods of communication'.[103][104]
April 2017 Death after police contact Learning In April 2017, police responded to reports of a distressed man running in and out of traffic in Poole. On attending, officers located company director Douglas Oak and suspected that he was suffering from acute behavioural disorder (ABD) (formerly known as 'excited delirium'), as he was sweating, red in the face, very hot to the touch and breathing heavily. An additional six police officers arrived and assisted in restraining him for over an hour, awaiting an ambulance. Whilst waiting, Oak went into cardiac arrest. It was later discovered that specially trained police officers in first aid failed to use a bag valve mask during CPR to provide ventilation. He was taken to hospital and later died. The IOPC investigation found that whilst there was no indication of misconduct or criminal offences in relation to the man's death, there was learning for the Force Command Centre around procedures to do with ABD and the provision of accurate information being given to the ambulance service control room. Dorset Police confirmed that learning would be shared with both the Force Command Centre and the wider force. Whilst the IOPC investgiation found officers at the scene identified the incident should be treated as a medical emergency, an inquest into Oak's death found that Oak being restrained contributed to his death. Dorset Police paid undisclosed damages to Oak's family, whilst denying liability. It was also found that whilst frontline officer were trained in recognising ABD, control room staff in police and ambulance control room weren't trained in recognising the term. This led to a 40-minute response time being allocated to the incident, instead of the emergency eight minute time.[105][106][107]
May 2017 Death after police contact Management action In May 2017, 77-year-old John Hill committed suicide using a .22 rifle that Dorset Police's firearms licensing unit had issued a license for, six weeks previously. Hill had previously told his children that 'when the time came he would end his life by shooting himself with a rifle'. No enquiries were made by Dorset Police with Hill's family about the suitability for the firearms license to be granted. Furthermore, a routine check with Hill's doctor by the unit revealed that he was being treated for alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis and whilst he had been advised to abstain from alcohol, was drinking 12 units per week. The IOPC found that the performance of two members of police staff within the unit did not meet expected standards and whilst this was not to be characterised as misconduct, management action needed to be undertaken, due to risks associated with firearms licensing. Dorset Police agreed with the findings and advised management action would be given to the members of staff.[108][109]
May 2018 Misconduct Written warning (both officers) In May 2018, a man was arrested by armed response officers due to being wanted. He was located in a house belonging to someone else. Whilst waiting for a unit to transport the man to custody, the man asked for a cigarette. Whilst looking for tobacco, an officer found a small bag of cannabis, which the man denied was his. The homeowner was called on the phone and also denied it was his. Another officer told the arrested man to 'cough the cannabis', so the homeowner wouldn't get into trouble, to which the man nodded. The officer told him that 'fuck all' would happen if he admitted it. During an interview, he denied the cannabis was his, stating that he was bullied into saying it was his. The Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charge of possession of cannabis against the man due to lack of evidence. The IOPC found that the two officers who tried to persuade the man to admit the cannabis was his, as well as not challenging each other's actions meant they had acted inappropriately. Both officers were found to have committed misconduct and received written warnings.[110]
September 2021 Prior police contact before offence taking place No misconduct identified - learning During the early hours of 5 September 2021, Dorset Police received a call from a member of the public, who raised concerns about the behaviour of a man who had approached her, before he approached another woman. Due to ‘higher-than-average calls’, officers weren't dispatched and the incident log was closed. The man was 30-year-old Hasan Kyoybasha, who continued to harass the woman for nearly 2 hours, before he raped her outside of a building in Poole. Dorset Police referred the incident to the IOPC, however, the watchdog referred the investigation back for an internal review. Whilst no misconduct was identified, learning was, that a radio broadcast detailing the contents of the 999 call could have alerted officers within the area. Dorset Police changed their procedure as a result, making radio broadcasts in cases of concerns for a person's safety.[111]
February 2022 Misconduct Final written warning In February 2022, Sergeant Simon Kempton was given a final written warning after using the Signal messaging app to post details from a non-reportable court hearing of Wayne Couzens to members of the executive group of the Police Federation of England and Wales. A journalist present at the hearing called Sergeant Kempton and allegedly told him what had been said at court. Sergeant Kempton shared this information with a group chat he was in, as an executive member of the Police Federation, adding some comments of his own regarding that what Couzens had said lacked merit. A member of the group reported the matter to their force's professional standards department. When Sergeant Kempton was made aware of the allegation, he claimed he'd not done anything wrong, as it was important executive members of the Police Federation had the information as soon as possible, to discuss what their response would be. The IOPC investigated and found that Sergeant Kempton had a case to answer for gross misconduct. He was given a final written warning.[112][113]
May 2022 Misconduct Final written warning In May 2022, an inquest was held in relation to the death of Gaia Pope-Sutherland, after she disappeared in 2017. It was reported that PC Sean Mallon (who had since retired), had been acting-up as a Sergeant when Pope-Sutherland when missing, but had failed to inform his supervisor, deploy officers to search for her and didn't handover the missing person investigation at the end of the shift by not updating the police log. And IOPC investigation found PC Mallon had a case to answer for misconduct and he was given a final written warning, before retiring.[114][115]
October 2023 Death after police contact Learning In October 2023, the IOPC's full report following the disappearance of Gaia Pope-Sutherland made a number of recommendations due to the poor way Dorset Police handled the case.[116]

Officers and staff conduct[edit]

Month Alleged misconduct Notes
January 2006 Use of force In January 2006, a Dorset Police officer's use of CS gas against a Wareham gardener left him with permanent scarring. The gas canister was held inches from the man's face for a prolonged period of time. The man's family alleged that he was prevented from seeking medical care in the immediate aftermath of the incident.[117] It was later reported that the man pleaded guilty to interfering with the arrest of another individual when he was sprayed with the incapacitant and was sentenced to two weeks in prison. This sentence was served concurrently with a 3-month prison sentence for three assault by beating offences which the man also admitted and was on bail for at the time of the CS incapacitant incident.[118]
August 2006 Misuse of police procedure In August 2006, a man who had previously been sprayed with CS gas by Dorset Police was arrested and forcibly stripped searched by Dorset Police officers. The man alleged that after being arrested, he was forcibly strip searched before being released without being interviewed or charged. He had previously made a complaint that an officer who stopped his vehicle in April 2005 was racially abusive and aggressive, including using his CS spray. An IPCC investigation by Kent Police cleared Dorset Police, with the IPCC stating that the driver's account 'was not backed up by independent witnesses'.[119][120]
2010 Computer misuse In 2010, prior to disciplinary hearings were commenced, two Special Constables resigned over Facebook 'misuse'.[121]
September 2010 Misuse of police powers In September 2010, a Slovakian care worker was unlawfully detained and strip-searched in a Dorset Police station in Bournemouth. In a later settlement, Dorset Police admitted liability, and paid out damages of £4,750. The woman was stopped in a car with a friend in the Springbourne area of Bournemouth. After police asked her for her details, she asked to see their identify cards first, however, the officer's only provided their collar numbers. After being 'unlawfully' detained by officers on Holdenhurst Road in Bournemouth, the woman was searched at Boscombe Police Station, on suspicion that she may be possessing drugs. Police paperwork alleged the woman had 'glazed' eyes and that the vehicle she was in, an Audi, was a make of vehicle that had been used in recent robberies. Dorset Police firstly denied anything was wrong, however, then offered £3,000 without admitting liability, before she finally received a full apology. The head of the professional standards department expressed his 'sincere regret for the incident'. It was reported that the officers' belief the woman possess drugs 'may not be seen as reasonable'.[122]
December 2011 Destruction of evidence In December 2011, former Sergeant Neil Slater was dismissed after covering up an affair of a colleague who had died in a road traffic collision. In October 2008, Detective Constable Ian Morton was killed after his car crashed into a bungalow on Lymington Road in Dorset. Sergeant Neil Slater investigated Morton's death and when two mobile phones were discovered from the vehicle, Slater discovered that Morton was having an affair with another officer from a different police force, but that Morton's family were unaware of the relationship. He instructed a junior officer to go to where the vehicle had been recovered to and destroy the mobile phone. The officer refused and spoke to senior officers, leading to Slater's arrest. Slater later explained that his intention was to protect Morton's family from 'further distress'. In August 2009, Slater faced a misconduct panel, who concluded that he should be dismissed. However, at a Police Appeals Tribunal in July 2010, it was concluded that Slater should instead keep his job, but be reduced in rank to Constable. However, the Chief Constable applied for, and was successful with a judicial review, with the High Court finding that Slater should be dismissed, quashing the tribunal's decision. Slater was allowed leave to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal, however, this was later dismissed.[123][124][125]
July 2012 Misconduct in public office In July 2012, an unnamed police officer was arrested for misconduct in public office, contrary to common law. They were not charged.[126]
October 2013 Misconduct in public office In October 2013, another unnamed police officer was arrested for misconduct in public office, contrary to common law. They were not charged.[126]
July 2015 Use of force In July 2015, it was reported Dorset Police were to pay compensation of more than £100,000 to two men who were Tasered and pepper-sprayed during a night out in Weymouth in August 2010. This also included payment of legal costs, after an inappropriate use of force. Having been celebrating on a stag do, the men were finding difficulty in getting a taxi home, when one of them asked for help from police. However, when a fracas started between several police officers and other members of the public, both the men were pepper sprayed, with one of them being Tasered. The men sued Dorset Police for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery, personal injury, excessive use of force and reputation damage, however, Dorset Police settled out of court, with no admittance of liability. In 2012, the convictions of the two men were quashed.[127]
December 2015 Abuse of position for a sexual purpose and attempting a cover up In December 2015, PC Neil Bowditch and Sergeant Mark Hughes were found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed after PC Bowditch 'became involved with a vulnerable woman' that he'd met on duty. Both officers had then tried to cover up the 'inappropriate relationship', with Sergeant Hughes not challenging the inappropriate conduct.[128]
2015/16 Assault - off-duty In 2015/16, a PCSO was dismissed after an allegation they had assaulted their partner.[129]
January 2016 Unauthorised searches on police systems In January 2016, PC Nigel Case was dismissed after it was found he had accessed and disclosed confidential information whilst based at Bridport Police Station. Using the Criminal Justice Search (CJS) and Police National Computer (PNC) databases, he searched information on himself and seven other people unrelated to his role as a police officer between 2011 and 2014. He called one of the people he had searched and disclosed police intelligence to them in 2014.[130]
August 2016 Inappropriate behaviour - rude conduct In August 2016, a video showed appeared to show a police officer being aggressive to a member of the public, whereby he calls him a 'prat' several times, telling him that he thinks he's a 'terrible member of the public'. He repeatedly tells the man to 'shut-up', raising his voice towards him. A female police officer also says to him: "You're not the sort of person who should be in this world", as she states that he is making a fool out of himself, giving the police a hard time for doing their job.[131]
November 2016 Assault - on duty In November 2016, PC Jamie Wallis was charged with assaulting a man at Bournemouth Police Station in April that year. However, the case was discontinued before trial, with the Crown Prosecution Service stating that 'there was insufficient evidence to have a realistic prospect of conviction'.[132]
2016/17 Domestic abuse In 2016/17, a Sergeant was issued with a non-molestation order after a domestic incident.[129]
2017 Inappropriate behaviour - racist language In 2017, it was reported that an officer used racist language during an arrest and subsequently was 'subject to special requirements'.[133]
2017 Abuse of position for a sexual purpose In 2017, an unnamed officer formed a sexual relationship with a woman who he'd met in the course of his duties. During an investigation into a road traffic collision, the officer discovered through initial enquiries that she was a victim of domestic abuse. However, days later, he started messaging her privately before forming a sexual relationship. The officer resigned before the investigation concluded.[134]
June 2017 Misuse of police powers In June 2017, a man was arrested by officers for offences related to s.52 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (causing or inciting someone to become a prostitute for gain). After being released under investigation, the man was subsequently released without charge. He sued Dorst Police for damages relating to false imprisonment and that his rights under Articles 5 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been infringed. Dorset Police admitted the man's arrest was 'procedurally unlawful', stating the arresting officer was not 'properly briefed'. They argued however, that should the correct procedure have been followed, the man would still have been arrested. At court, the man was awarded 'substantial damages'.[135]
September 2017 Abuse of position for a sexual purpose In September 2017, an unnamed officer was dismissed after admitting gross misconduct for beginning a relationship with a victim of sexual assault. After attending the initial incident, he later visited her and formed a sexual relationship.[136]
October 2017 Misconduct in public office In October 2017, an unnamed police officer was arrested for misconduct in public office, contrary to common law. They were not charged.[126]
November 2017 Unauthorised searches on police systems In November 2017, PC Kenneth Walmsley was dismissed after being found guilty of gross misconduct after admitting searching for information on police computer systems, as well as using a pool car owned by the police for personal use, which he used a police fuel card to refuel the car with.[137]
2017/18 Domestic abuse In 2017/18, a PCSO was subject to management action after an allegation against them of domestic abuse.[129]
2017/18 Domestic abuse In 2017/18, a PCSO was issued with a non-molestation order in relation to a family-related domestic incident.[129]
2017/18 Inappropriate behaviour - disability discrimination In 2017/18, an unidentified officer was alleged to have discriminated against a disabled person.[138]
2018 Inappropriate behaviour - sexual comments In 2018, whilst off duty, an officer made unsolicited and inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.[139]
June 2018 Inappropriate behaviour - sexual comments In June 2018, Sergeant Stephen Hughes was issued a final written warning having admitted he had made inappropriate comments between April 2014 and January 2016 to two female colleagues whilst based at Dorchester Police Station.[140]
August 2018 Negligent discharge of firearm In August 2018, an armed police officer accidentally shot a driver in the arm whilst trying to stop his car in Bournemouth. After putting his hand on the driver's door, the driver pulled the car away, with the officer accidentally firing their Glock pistol. Whilst no criminal offence or misconduct was found, the officer was advised to complete a refresher course before retiring to frontline duties.[141]
December 2018 Sexual assault In December 2018, an incident of sexual assault by a member of staff was recorded. The result of the allegation led to local resolution by their division.[142]
2019 Dishonesty In 2019, an officer was reported to have colluded via WhatsApp to falsify training records.[139]
2019 Inappropriate behaviour - offensive and derogatory comments In 2019, there were three instances of officers involved in a WhatsApp communication that contained offensive or derogatory comments.[139]
2019 Inappropriate behaviour - text messages In 2019, an officer possessed and distributed an image that was classified as extreme pornography, sending a video on in a WhatsApp group.[139]
2019 Inappropriate behaviour - texting a vulnerable person In 2019, an officer sent a number of text messages to a vulnerable female.[139]
2019 Inappropriate behaviour - text messages In 2019, an officer took photographs of a crime scene with a mobile phone and forwarded them on.[139]
2020 Inappropriate behaviour - text messages In 2020, an officer attempted to form a relationship with a colleague that involved them sending the other person inappropriate texts.[139]
2020 Inappropriate behaviour - text messages In 2020, an officer took photos of a police incident and sent them via WhatsApp to a colleague.[139]
January 2020 Failure to follow policy and Dishonesty In January 2020, a misconduct panel found former PC Hannah White and PC Jamie Woodfine attended an address in Poole to check on the welfare of a woman and had lied about what had happened. In June 2018, the officers responded to a call from a member of the public in relation to a man who may have breached a court order. On attendance, a man who was prevented from contacting the woman was at the address. The court order meant the man was liable to arrest from breaching the order. The officers decided not to arrest the man, finding there was no risk to the woman. However, White updated the log stating the man was not present at the address. White resigned prior to the misconduct hearing, with Woodfine being dismissed without notice.[143]
February 2020 Sexual assault In February 2020, DC Nick Gravenor was dismissed after being found guilty of gross misconduct, after sexually assaulting a colleague at her home in 2015. Prior to this, he had touched her inappropriately and made innapropraite comments towards her. The victim decided to report Gravenor when she heard a colleague praising him.[144]
June 2020 Inappropriate behaviour - sex on duty In June 2020, former Inspector William 'Billy' Bulloch was found guilty of gross misconduct for 'engaging in sexual activity with members of the public while on duty'. Whilst details were never released during the misconduct hearing, Bulloch also 'pursued other individuals for sex while on duty', including having sex with colleagues whilst on duty. He resigned before the hearing.[145]
October 2020 Misuse of police powers etc At approximately 19:55 GMT on 30 October 2020, a man was stopped by Sergeant Robbie Jephcott of Dorset Police's No Excuse traffic department. Jephcott, insisted that the driver stepped out of the vehicle when he wasn't obliged to do so. He produced his baton and threatened to smash the driver's window, counting down from three. Jephcott is heard to say: "You're getting a ticket for something", appearing to threaten the driver punitively. Jepchcott indicates for the man to stop filming. Later, Jephcott appeared to lie about his suspicion the driver had consumed alcohol, stating that the soft-drink can the driver had may have been mixed with vodka. Jephcott then arrests the driver on suspicion of driving the vehicle with no license or insurance, appearing to do so without necessity or lawful reason, handcuffing the man, appearing to hurt him in the process by bending his arm. In cautioning the man, Jephcott misstated the caution, omitting the words 'anything you do say may be given in evidence'. The man later asks Jephcott what he's been arrested for, where Jephcott adds on that he's been arrested for obstructing the police and potentially being intoxicated (despite not saying this to man when he was arrested).[146]
2021 Inappropriate behaviour - offensive text messages In 2021, there were four instances of officers sending text messages to other officers of a grossly offensive nature.[139]
September 2021 Inappropriate behaviour - sexual comments In September 2021, former PC Christopher Maidment was found guilty of gross misconduct for sexually harassing female colleagues whilst on duty, between 2019 and 2021. An investigation uncovered that Maidment had made 'a large number of harassing comments of a sexual nature to female colleagues', both over message and in person. He also 'inappropriately touched' some of his colleagues.[147]
October 2021 Abuse of position for a sexual purpose In October 2021, PC Sean Ford was dismissed after forming an inappropriate relationship with a victim of domestic abuse. In September 2019, PC Sean Ford attended the home address of a domestic abuse victim to take a statement about a recent incident. He was the investigating officer regarding the allegation between the woman and her ex-husband. His initial involvement was to take the statement of her ex-husband, however, he later attended the woman's address to take a further statement from her. The pair became friends on Facebook and exchanged numbers. A few days later, Ford later attended her address where they had sex and he stayed over. Shortly before Christmas 2019, Ford moved into her home. Whilst Ford admitted misconduct, he denied gross misconduct. However, it was concluded that Ford's involvement with the woman, who was vulnerable, was 'a serious conflict of interest which could have affected the administration of justice'. He was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed.[148][149]
November 2021 Dishonesty In November 2021, former Superintendent Michael Rogers was found guilty of gross misconduct, having claimed thousands of pounds in false expenses. The panel found that between July 2015 and March 2019, Rogers was using police vehicles for work and private trips when he knew he shouldn't be doing. He knowingly 'declared less private mileage than he had travelled and submitted claims for expenses that he had not incurred'. Other claims included expenses of £4,000 for meals. It was concluded that if he hadn't resigned in May 2021, he would have been dismissed. In August 2022, Rogers committed suicide, dying at age 56. He had contacted his GP about his mental health during the investigation in October 2020 and in August 2021, had previously attempted to commit suicide.[150][151]
2022 Inappropriate behaviour - misuse of warrant card In 2022, an officer was alleged to have produced their warrant card during a driving incident whilst off duty. As of 18/01/2023, the investigation was ongoing.[152]
2022 Inappropriate behaviour - misuse of warrant card In 2022, an officer was alleged to have left their vehicle, showing a police badge and threatening the complainant. The issue was resolved through management advice.[152]
January 2022 Dishonesty In January 2022, a misconduct panel found PC Jonathan Bell had stolen four or five stakes from a Dorset Police shooting range to build garden furniture between July and August 2019. He then lied to his supervisor that he would return them, even though he had built a table from them. He told a sergeant that he had taken the stakes 'to prop up a lean-to'. An inspector, along with a sergeant, visited Bell's address and found a 'big blue chunky table on a deck' as well as informing the professional standards department. Bell resigned from Dorset Police prior to the misconduct hearing.[153][154]
April 2022 Domestic abuse In April 2022, an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and ITV revealed 30 police officers and staff from Dorset Police were reported for domestic abuse between January 2018 and September 2021. Two officers or staff were subject to disciplinary action, two were either removed or retired/resigned and three received a criminal outcome, all in relation to the allegations against them.[155]
May 2022 Football Act Offence In May 2022, three off-duty officers were 'asked to reflect on their behaviour', after encroaching on the football pitch at the end of an AFC Bournemouth match at the Vitality Stadium against Nottingham Forest, in which the team were promoted to the Premier League. This is an offence, contrary to the Football (Offences) Act 1991.[156]
June 2022 Abuse of position for a sexual purpose In June 2022, a misconduct panel found that between September 2021 and January 2022, former PC Robert Hopper conducted an inappropriate relationship with a victim of domestic abuse. Hopper had met the victim through the course of his duties and he was the officer in charge of investigating the incident. He used his work email to send 'flirtatious' emails, as well as using WhatsApp to message her and visiting her home 'without any policing purpose', where he had consensual sex with her. Hopper also sent two emails 'containing details of policing matters' to a person outside Dorset Police. The misconduct hearing concluded that he would have been sacked if he hadn't already resigned.[157][158][159]
June 2022 Dishonesty At an inquest into the death of missing teenager Gaia Pope-Sutherland in June 2022, PC David Taylor, the deputy police search co-ordinator, admitted adding information into Dorset Police's search logs up to a month after the 19-year-old was found dead in 2017. He apologised to the teenager's family for any “confusion or upset” caused by his actions and said his intention was only to collate the information, with counsel for the inquest suggesting that PC Taylor had “beefed up” the log, knowing that there would be an inquest before a coroner.[160]
January 2023 Abuse of position for a sexual purpose In January 2023, it was reported that an unnamed Sergeant would have been sacked if he hadn't already resigned after misconduct was proved against him, regarding 'improper relationships' that he'd pursued with student officers who reported directly to him. The panel heard that between April and May 2022, the sergeant made 'sexual phone calls' to one student officer and sent 'flirtatious messages' to another. The sergeant had been warned in June 2021 about the same behaviour, but continued his inappropriate conduct, including engaging in a 'consensual sex act' with a vulnerable student officer, who had reported being a victim of domestic abuse, as well as kissing another in his garage.[161]
March 2023 Sexual misconduct In March 2023, a Freedom of Information Act request discovered that between January 2018 and December 2022, 32 warranted officers (police constables and special constables) had a misconduct or complaint case recorded against them of an allegation of sexual misconduct. 10 of those cases were related to accusations of child sexual offences. The same Freedom of Information Act request found that 16 officer were found to have a case to answer for inappropriate behaviour or sexual misconduct, with 8 officers being dismissed or that they would have been dismissed (if they hadn't left prior to the decision).[162]
June 2023 Inappropriate behaviour - a group chat of a sexual, pornographic, misogynistic, homophobic, racist and bulling nature In June 2023, PC Mark Jordan-Gill and former PC Paul Perdrisat were found guilty of gross misconduct, having shared inappropriate messages in a 'toxic' WhatsApp group for the Force Support Group. Posts that were shared were 'sexual, pornographic, misogynistic, homophobic, racist and bulling'. This left one member feeling suicidal. Two other members of the group, PC Michael Lowther and PC Matthew Young were found guilty of misconduct, with PC Lowther being given a written warning and PC Young being given a final written warning.[163] In August 2023, Inspector Nicholas Mantle was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed for also posting inappropriate images.[164]
July 2023 Violence against women and girls In July 2023, it was reported that according to a Freedom of Information Act request, between May 2022 and May 2023, there were 14 misconduct cases against officers and staff which had a factor of 'violence against women and girls' (VAWG). This led to nine officers and staff being suspended following the outcome of the cases. Others faced a written warning, reduction in rank, reflective practice or no further action.[165]
October 2023 Inappropriate behaviour - inappropriate comment In October 2023, it was reported that the family of missing teenager Alex Bendall had complained to the IOPC, after initially complaining to Dorset Police directly about the 'insensitive' police response. Their complaint was in regards to the police investigation and a claim that when the body of Alex was located, an officer described the body as "bones in boots". Bendall had gone missing in February 2023, with their body being located in the River Frome in the area of Lubbecke Way, Dorchester.[166][167][168]
February 2024 Inappropriate behaviour - inappropriate language In February 2024, it was alleged that a member of police staff was aggressive to a member of the public, after their dog urinated in Bournemouth square. The member of police staff was representing Dorset Police, alongside Bournemouth Council, with a stall in the town centre during a 'day of action'. The member of staff allegedly was 'aggressive', shouting: "Clear your fucking dog piss". As of 10 February 2024, Dorset Police's complaints department are investigating.[169]

Officers and staff convicted of offences[edit]

Date Offence Sentence Notes
February 2003 Perverting the course of justice 18-months-imprisonment In February 2003, former PC Steven Rigler was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. During a night In January 2001, Rigler was on patrol in Christchurch when he saw a 17-year-old girl sat in the street with a friend, having been on a night out. He offered to take them home, but stated he first had to go to an emergency. Instead, he returned to the police station, collected a condom from his locker and returned to collect the girls. After dropping the first girl home, Rigler allegedly forced the girl to give him oral sex in a lay-by (Rigler admitted that she had performed a consensual sex act on him whilst driving the car in return for a lift home). The girl later complained and Rigler attempted to cover-up what had happened by damaging his car and forging a blackmail letter, lying that it was the girl. On the bonnet of his car, Rigler scratched a crucifix, placing a sign from an undertakers on the roof. He forged the letter by cutting words from magazines, adding a phone number on it, which Rigler stated he rang and was told for £1,000 the case would be dropped. However, saliva on the letter's gummed strip was DNA tested and proved it belonged to Rigler. Rigler was cleared of indecent assault but found guilty of perverting the course of justice.[170][171]
September 2012 Attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent

Two counts of obtaining services by deception (convicted at a later trial)

10-years-imprisonment In September 2012, former PC Matthew Cherry was jailed after attacking his pregnant ex-girlfriend, attempting to cause her to miscarry their child. Cherry resigned from Dorset Police before he was charged. Cherry wore a balaclava and put on a fake accent, carrying out a 'savage attack' on his ex-partner by punching her in the stomach and back. He was reportedly angry that his ex-partner wouldn't have an abortion. His ex-partner later gave birth to a healthy baby. In March 2013, Cherry was further convicted on two counts of obtaining services by deception, relating to lying about his earnings to obtain a mortgage in 2003 and 2004, when he was a serving police officer.[172][173]
April 2014 Five counts of fraud by false representation Community service In April 2014, PC Adam McLean was sentenced to community service after being convicted of five counts of fraud by false representation. McLean met a member of the public in the course of his duties, later becoming friends. However, McLean later abused his position when using his bank account to pay off debts. He took £970 from the victims account in a number of transactions. McLean was dismissed after his conviction.[174][175]
July 2015 Harassment with fear of violence, obtaining or disclosing police information and a data protection offence 9-months-imprisonment (harassment with fear of violence)

3-months imprisonment for obtaining or disclosing police information (to run concurrently) 2-months-imprisonment for a data protection offence (to run concurrently)

In July 2015, former PC Allan Smith was jailed for harassment with fear of violence, obtaining or disclosing police information and for another data protection offence. He was also issued with a restraining order, indefinitely preventing him from contacting the victim. Following his guilty plea, Smith was dismissed from Dorset Police. Smith sent 42,000 text messages and voicemails over a few years to a former lover, putting her in fear of violence. He also accessed the Police National Computer (PNC) for reasons unrelated to his work.[176][177][178]
February 2016 11 counts of fraud by false representation 12-months-imprisonment (suspended for 2 years) and unpaid work In February 2016, former PC Stephen Shires was sentenced after admitting 11 counts of fraud by false representation. He was dismissed from Dorset Police in December 2015. An investigation found that Shires had used three fuel cards on 59 occasions to fuel his personal vehicle with more than £3,000-worth of fuel.[179]
March 2018 Harassment without fear of violence 5-months-imprisonment In March 2018, PC Matthew Loveless was sentenced and issued a five-year restraining order after pleading guilty to harassment without fear of violence to his ex-wife. Loveless caused her distress after sending messages about her to her father, friends and family after their marriage broke down, including sharing malicious information.[180][181]
March 2021 Manslaughter 13-years-and-6-months-imprisonment In March 2021, PC Timothy Brehmer, was convicted of manslaughter for the death of his mistress and colleague's wife. Having had a 10-year affair, the altercation in which he is said to have strangled the victim to death took place in a local car park, following her decision to call things off.[182]
November 2021 Fraud by false representation 2-years-and-3-months-imprisonment In November 2021, former PC Matthew Littlefair was jailed after being convicted of fraud by false representation. Littlefair claimed his salary and other money to the total of £149,764.20 from Dorset Police after reporting that after a minor road traffic collision, he couldn't work, stating that he was injured so badly that he 'couldn't even lift a kettle'. However, covert surveillance revealed he was playing football with his children, walking his dog and exercising, with his phone revealing he'd completed 8,503 steps in one day. He resigned from Dorset Police after being convicted.[183][184]
January 2023 Theft from employer 2-years-imprisonment In January 2023, evidential property researcher Lisa Arnold was jailed having pleaded guilty to stealing £14,494.20 from cash seized from investigations. Arnold took money by slitting the bottom of evidence bags, then resealing them. An investigation revealed Arnold had stored the cash in her wardrobe before depositing large amounts of money into her bank account that exceeded her monthly salary. Arnold stated that after becoming depressed during the COVID-19 lockdown and a marriage crisis, she used online shopping as a 'form of escapism'. At a hearing in November 2023, it was revealed that Arnold had benefited from £55,000 from stealing the money and under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, £32,829.84 could be seized back from her.[185][186]
August 2023 Careless driving Eight penalty points £307 fine, £123 surcharge and £500 compensation In August 2023, PC Harry Chaplin was convicted of careless driving after crashing into a family's car en route to a road traffic collision. Dashcam showed the police car knocking the family's car onto its side, knocking one occupant unconscious and suffering a bleed on the brain. PC Chaplin drove between 73 mph and 81 mph on a road with a 30 mph limit. Whilst he was responding to an emergency with blue lights and sirens, the speed was described as 'excessive'. PC Chaplin was fined £307, and was required to pay a £123 surcharge and £500 compensation to the family. He received eight penalty points on his license. He was not disqualified as the judge remarked that he was 'not simply exceeding the speed limit' but driving to a serious road traffic collision.[187][188]
October 2023 Two counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, three counts of assault by penetration, and sexual assault 16-and-a-half-years imprisonment In October 2023, PC Ravi Canhye was jailed after being convicted of two counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, three counts of assault by penetration, and sexual assault. Over a weekend in April 2022, Canhye attacked two women. He resigned from Dorset Police on the day he was convicted.[189][190]

General[edit]

Date Issue
August 2021 In August 2021, it was reported that Dorset Police had received formal complaints regarding videos of an arrest that had been shared on social media. Dorset Police stated that the man, who was busking, refused to move on as required by by-laws banning busking in that area and became aggressive. During the arrest, the man was injured and taken to hospital. He was arrested on suspicion of 'assault, possession of a Class B drug and resisting arrest'. He was later released under investigation.[191][192]
December 2021 In December 2021, nationally produced figures revealed that Dorset Police continued to stop and search a higher percentage of black people, more than anywhere else in the country, with a black person being 'almost 20 times more likely to be subject to a stop and search', compared to the national average of a black person being seven times more likely to be stopped than a white person. Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick, said at the time: "I am going to treat this as a priority improvement area and I will keep challenging it until we get there.”[193]
January 2022 In January 2022, a white-tailed sea eagle was discovered dead on a shooting estate in North Dorset. An investigation was launched, however, Dorset Police stated they 'could not confirm if any criminal offence had been committed' and discontinued the investigation. This was despite the bird having 'seven times' the amount of rodenticide broadifacoum needed to kill it in its body. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) were 'baffled' by this. On the other hand, in relation to the incident, the MP for West Dorset, Chris Loder, controversially wrote on Twitter that he wanted Dorset Police to 'focus on county lines rather than spend time and resources on this'.[194]
June 2022 In June 2022, a Freedom of Information Act request discovered that between 1 May 2019 and 30 April 2022, Dorset Police had received 22 reports of alleged offences committed by serving Police Constables from the force. Thirteen officers continued to serve, whilst eleven didn't. All allegations were investigated, however, not all resulted in criminal or misconduct proceedings. Three allegations were discontinued or not proceeded with at court, with three allegations being found guilty and two allegations being found not guilty. Six officers were dismissed without notice and one was issued with a written warning.[195]
February 2023 In February 2023, Dorset Police said that the 'vast majority of its staff were professional', after recent misconduct by officers and staff.[196]
August 2023 In August 2023, it was reported that since July 2021, Dorset Police had spent more than £12,300 on flights across the country for staff and officers for 'supporting ongoing investigations, attending conferences and other national meetings and events and training'.[197]
August 2023 In August 2023, it was reported that there had been 24 incidents since 2017 whereby the wrong type of fuel was put in police vehicles by Dorset Police. This cost the taxpayer £2,751 in repairs.[198]
August 2023 In a Gov.UK article published on 10 August 2023, in Dorset, the stop and search rate for black people was found to be 11.5 times higher than for white people – the biggest difference between white people and another ethnic group out of all police force areas.[199]

Alliances and merger proposals[edit]

In 2006 the Home Office announced plans to reduce the number of police forces in the UK from 42 to 24.[200] This would have seen Dorset Police merge with Gloucestershire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Wiltshire Police. The plans were publicly criticised by all the involved forces, stating that it would lead to poor quality service and a reduction in local policing.[201] The merger plans were abandoned in August 2006 by the then Home Secretary, John Reid.[202]

Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police announced in December 2013 that their Chief Constables and PCCs were exploring opportunities for greater collaboration; to save costs without reducing service, and share assets, resources, expertise and best practice. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) defines a strategic alliance as: "An agreement between two or more forces to pursue a set of agreed objectives, while retaining separate identities." A strategic alliance was agreed to in March 2015, covering over 30 administrative and operational business areas (almost 40% of the total activity of the two forces). These business areas include admin services, finance, human resources, fleet services and ICT, together with some specialist policing teams. The first joint teams became operational in April 2016. In each business area, there is a single team and management structure made up from people from both organisations, to work on behalf of both forces. Any costs and savings are shared in proportion to the size of each force. So far[when?] the strategic alliance project is on track to achieve the initial target of £12 million of combined annual savings by 2018.

In September 2017, it was announced that Dorset Police and Devon and Cornwall Police were looking at merging to form a single force.[203] This was cancelled in October 2018 when the PCC for Devon and Cornwall was unwilling to submit the merger plans to the Home Office for consideration.[204]

Officers killed in the line of duty[edit]

The Police Roll of Honour Trust and Police Memorial Trust list and commemorate all British police officers killed in the line of duty. Since its establishment in 1984, the Police Memorial Trust has erected 50 memorials nationally to some of those officers.

Officers killed in the line of duty or who have died reporting for, on, or off duty (Bournemouth Borough Police, Dorset Constabulary and Dorset Police)
Name Rank Age Force name at time Date of death Circumstances
Thomas Bishop Constable 39 Dorset Constabulary 21 September 1877 Fatally bludgeoned with stones by a drunken man he had warned. The incident occurred in Bere Regis following the Woodbury Hill Fair.[205]
Samuel Foster Superintendent 51 Bournemouth Borough Police 6 August 1904 Collapsed and died while representing the force at the funeral of a colleague.
Sidney George Wood Constable 27 Dorset Constabulary 26 April 1908 Died after crashing his bicycle on a steep hill searching for a thief
Thomas Biddlecombe Constable 47 Dorset Constabulary 18 December 1916 Whilst patrolling Thornford Road, Sherborne, he took severely ill and was taken by ambulance to Yeatman Hospital where he died.
Wilfred Charles Viney Constable 31 Dorset Constabulary 25 July 1930 Killed riding pillion in a motorcycle collision on plain clothes night patrol.
Sidney F. Loader Constable 40 Dorset Constabulary 8 September 1938 Fatally injured in a collision with a car while on cycle patrol.
Alfred E. Head Constable 46 Dorset Constabulary 19 October 1938 Fatally injured in a road collision cycling to court in bad weather.
Stanley Ivor Marsh Constable 24 Dorset Constabulary 9 February 1939 Died as a result of injuries received in 1938 when he attempted to stop a car.
Walter Charles Billett Reserve constable 61 Dorset Constabulary 5 July 1940 Killed in a fall from his bicycle while reporting for duty in the blackout.
Ronald Mayne Roffey Sergeant 37 Bournemouth Borough Police 22 August 1956 Drowned attempting to rescue his daughter from the sea in Jersey.
Cecil Robert Budden Constable 27 Dorset Constabulary 19 May 1957 Fatally injured in a collision with a car while on motorcycle patrol.
Kenneth Frederick Innell Inspector 44 Dorset Police 13 December 1982 Collapsed and died during an incident on duty at Poole Quay.
Sean Oxford Special constable 21 Dorset Police 7 May 1992 Collapsed and died during warm up exercises in preparation for self defence training.
Stephen Wilson Constable 37 Dorset Police 16 May 1996 Fatally injured in a motorcycle collision while reporting for night duty.
Ian Leslie Toomer Inspector 50 Dorset Police 20 April 1999 Killed in a road collision when his police car crashed in wet weather.
Robin Povall Detective constable 50 Dorset Police 7 March 2003 While cycling home from duty at Weymouth he was in a collision with a car that had cut across his path. He sustained serious injuries from which he died a few hours later in hospital.
Ian James Morton Detective constable 32 Dorset Police 26 October 2008 Killed in a road traffic collision whilst travelling to report for duty at Bournemouth, in the early morning, when his vehicle left the road and crashed into the wall of a bungalow at Highcliffe.
Jonathan Mark Hicken Detective constable 47 Dorset Police 6 October 2019 Collapsed and died while travelling to duty.

Dorset Police Male Voice Choir[edit]

The Dorset Police Male Voice Choir was founded on 4 July 1995 as independent charity that today has 60 members, that perform regularly throughout Dorset. The choir has performed throughout England and also France, Guernsey, Ireland and the USA. The choir has so far raised over £250,000 for charity.[206]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The 2006 book Bobbies on the Beat: 150 Years of the Dorset Police by Melvin Hann presents the history of the Dorset Police Force to mark the 150th anniversary.[207]
  • The 2018 book Operation Countryman: The Flawed Enquiry into London Police Corruption by former Metropolitan Police officer Kirby Dick, discusses Operation Countryman, an investigation into police corruption in London in the late 1970s, on which then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, appointed Dorset Police to investigate. The investigation was led by then Dorset Police Chief Constable, Arthur Hambleton, to which Dick describes in his book as 'shambolic'.[208]
  • In March 2017, an episode of The Kyle Files, presented by Jeremy Kyle, featured the No Excuse and Traffic unit. The 30-minute documentary featured Kyle joining the units on patrol, focusing on the dangers at the wheel, such as drink and drug driving, mobile phone use, speeding and Operation Dragoon, Dorset Police's approach to tackling the most dangerous road users.The episode was filmed in October 2016 and aired on ITV on 6 March 2017.[209]
  • In October 2017, Gordon Ramsay's documentary Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine, featured Ramsay joining the Traffic Unit on patrol in Bournemouth, for a special operation to tackle the issue of drug driving. The episode was filmed in April 2017 and the two-part programme aired on ITV on 19 October and 26 October 2017.[210]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]