Essex police officer sacked over offensive WhatsApp messages

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Braintree Police StationImage source, Google
Image caption,
David Alston was based at Braintree police station

A "highly respected" police officer who sent racist and homophobic messages to friends on social media has been sacked for gross misconduct.

PC David Alston sent the offensive texts and video clips of extreme pornography to a WhatsApp group between March and June 2017.

He was caught when officers began an unrelated investigation involving a member of the group.

Essex Police suspended him when the messages were discovered.

A spokesman for the force said the officer used his own phone to send the texts and it was a coincidence he was found out.

"The messages came to light during a domestic abuse-related investigation involving another member of the same WhatsApp group".

A police misconduct hearing took place at Chelmsford Civic Centre and the panel found PC Alston, who was based at Braintree, breached police standards of professional behaviour.

It ruled he should be dismissed without notice.

Det Supt Dean Chapple said: "Racism and homophobia is absolutely disgusting and has no place in our society, let alone within the police force.

"PC Alston was a highly respected and capable officer however his conduct, whilst off duty and in the presence of selected friends who were not associated with policing, fell way below the standards we expect of our officers and in no way represents our values."

The Minority Ethnic Support Association chair, PCSO Macdonald Neife, said: "We are not aware of any systemic racist or negative cultural behaviour, but would encourage any colleagues who are aware of unacceptable behaviour to report this through the channels available."

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