'Plain nasty' racist Hampshire police unit called black officer 'mixed breed'
Members of a ‘toxic’ specialist police unit were recorded by a bugging device making ‘abhorrent’ racist, sexist, homophobic and other inappropriate comments, a disciplinary hearing has been told.
Six officers from Hampshire police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit (Socu) office in Basingstoke, are accused of breaching professional standards and are facing a three-week tribunal.
Jason Beer QC, presenting the case against the officers, said that following an anonymous complaint, covert recording devices were placed in the unit’s offices between March 9 and April 2, 2018.
Retired Detective Inspector Tim Ireson, Detective Sergeant Oliver Lage, Detective Sergeant Gregory Willcox, former PC Craig Bannerman, trainee Detective Constable Andrew Ferguson and PC James Oldfield are all accused of breaching professional standards.
Mr Ireson and Det Sgt Willcox are accused of failing to fulfil their supervisory roles to stop or report the inappropriate behaviour.
Mr Beer said: ‘This was a specialist police unit that enjoyed relative isolation from the rest of the force due to the sensitive and sometimes covert nature of the work that it undertook.
‘That isolation and a lack of leadership by Mr Ireson and Det Sgt Willcox appears to have led to a toxic, abhorrent culture developing in the unit amongst some officers.
‘(This) is inconsistent with the values and standards of the police service in the 21st century and inconsistent with continued service in the police service.’
Detailing the abusive comments, Mr Beer said: ‘It was firstly a unit that was sexist – women were called or referred to as whores, sluts...’
He added women were described as 'Dorises’ who had ‘a growler or an angry beaver’ among other words.
Officers pondered among themselves if a person using the public address system was sexually active with a man, he added.
He said: ‘It was a unit that was racist – a black officer is described as a pavement special, ie a mixed-breed dog.
‘People are described as pikeys, a black officer is accused of behaving like a colonial overseer running a plantation of white people, when speaking to a black officer a colleague puts on a fake Caribbean accent – in fact he was from Ghana, a detail like that doesn’t matter, he was a black man after all.
‘A black officer is accused of being flown to England from Africa in a crate and taken to London zoo, all the time a song is sung in the background to the tune of Buffalo Soldier.’
He added that ‘offensive’ photos of black men were shared on a WhatsApp group, which referred to the only black officer in the unit.
Mr Beer said that the officers were also recorded using derogatory terms for disabled, gay and transgender people and they had also suggested that Albanian nationals ‘should be shot or even killed with a nerve agent’.
Comments were also recorded saying that ‘illegal immigrants deserve the death penalty’, Mr Beer said.
He added: ‘It was a unit that was plain nasty, that displayed attitudes towards groups and communities that police officers are called upon to protect.’
Oldfield is also accused of attending work after excessive alcohol consumption and Det Sgt Willcox is also alleged to have falsely recorded hours and overtime, according to Hampshire police.
The Winchester hearing continues.