Leicestershire police officers sacked after hateful messages about LGBT+ people uncovered
Four police officers from the Leicestershire police force have been fired after a series of homophobic messages were discovered.
The four former officers, whose identities have been kept anonymous, sent each other offensive messages about the LGBT+ community and disabled people.
One even joked about a sex crime in the closed WhatsApp chat which was set up by a former sergeant.
The group used phrases such as “big gay bear” and “big gay purple head” in amongst 92 offensive messages between 2013 and 2014.
The messages were uncovered after one officer’s phone was seized over a separate case.
Four of the officers in the conversation were found guilty of gross misconduct and fired after an investigation into the messages was launched in 2014.
Four other officers in the chat were found guilty of misconduct and were given final written warnings for their messages in the group.
Miran Uddin, who chaired the disciplinary panel, said that the messages used “abhorrent” language.
He added that the messages could have risked creating poor relations between the police force and the public.
“Public confidence in the police would be wholly undermined by any outcome other than dismissal,” Uddin said in a statement.
Nick Yeo represented the officers who were fired and claimed that their behaviour had improved since 2013.
Yeo said: “It is four-and-a-half years since this conduct and more than three years since it was first identified.
“In each case, the officers will tell you they are a changed person and their conduct in sending these messages is not reflective of their true character as you would find it today.”
He added that there had been “plenty of time for them to reflect on their conduct and modify their behaviour” even though “at the time” it was “thought to be in some way acceptable or permissible to behave in this way”.
Matthew Butt represented the officers who were not fired.
Butt said that they “would never discriminate against any individual” and that “they have addressed their failings and learned a very hard lesson by virtue of this hearing”.