Tayside and Central Scotland

Police worker admits grooming 14-year-old girl

Forfar Sheriff Court
Image caption Forfar Sheriff Court heard Drew Ingram sent the teenager 174 private messages

A police worker who stalked a 14-year-old girl he met while volunteering has been given a community sentence.

Drew Ingram met the girl at the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers programme where he was an adult helper.

Ingram sent her 174 private messages on social media after she approached him with concerns about a friend she believed was being bullied.

The 58-year-old from Forfar admitted stalking the girl between July and August last year.

His not guilty pleas to similar charges involving two other girls aged 13 and 14 were accepted by prosecutors.

Forfar Sheriff Court was told Ingram began to sign off the messages with an "x", and in one suggested: "I think we have a kind of special relationship, or am I wrong?"

'Completely inappropriate'

Defence solicitor Brian Bell said Ingram had been signed off work, largely due to the court proceedings, but expected to be sacked from his civilian role.

He said: "In the cold light of day he realises that this was completely inappropriate behaviour.

"There was no sexual motive, no effort to groom the child."

Sheriff Pino Di Emidio imposed a community payback order with supervision and 150 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He said that being in a position of trust as part of the youth programme was an "aggravating factor" in the case.

Det Insp Scott Fotheringham of Police Scotland, said: "The result today sends a strong message that no matter who you work for, this type of behaviour is not acceptable and will be taken seriously.

"Disappointingly, Drew Ingram abused his position of trust and has been sentenced for these offences today.

"Drew Ingram is currently suspended from Police Scotland and a report on the circumstances will be passed to the head of people and development for their consideration."

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