Merseyside Police firearms officer dismissed without notice for misconduct

A Firearms Officer at Merseyside Police has been dismissed from the force without notice.

He will be barred from becoming a police officer anywhere in the UK after he was found to have sent racist and homophobic messages, and stolen property from police premises.

Following an extensive investigation by the force’s Professional Standards Department, Daniel Johnson, aged 44, was also found to have held a birthday party while covid restrictions prevented it, and consumed alcohol while on duty.

In April 2021, a surveillance officer told the hearing that he saw PC Johnson consuming alcohol at the Jug and Bottle pub in Heswall while on duty as an on-call firearms officer. PC Johnson was subsequently suspended.

A misconduct hearing held at Rose Hill Headquarters from Monday, 13 May, to Friday, 17 May, chaired by an Independent Legally Qualified Chair, concluded his theft of property and sending of racist and homophobic messages amounted to gross misconduct.

The panel concluded his removal of the police rip saw and blades without permission demonstrated a lack of integrity and could have the potential to discredit the police service, breaching the force’s honesty and integrity policy and discreditable conduct and amounting to gross misconduct.

By sending messages of a racist and homophobic nature to colleagues, Con Johnson was in breach of standards of professional behaviour namely discreditable conduct and equality and diversity, also amounting to gross misconduct.

Con Johnson was found to be not fit to execute his duties and responsibilities at the level of misconduct, due to his consumption alcohol while on duty.

His hosting of a birthday party at home during the covid pandemic in contravention of lockdown restrictions in place at the time constituted discreditable conduct at the level of misconduct.

Con Johnson was dismissed without notice on Friday, 17 May, and will be added to the College of Policing Barred List for a minimum of five years.

Detective Chief Superintendent Cheryl Rhodes, head of Merseyside Police’s Professional Standards, said, “We always demand the highest possible standards from all our officers and staff, both on and off duty.

“We work proactively to root out and investigate those officers and staff whose behaviour falls short of the very high standards the public of Merseyside expect and deserve.

“Daniel Johnson fell far short of that, and we welcome the fact that his behaviour was identified and that he has now been removed from our ranks.

“We want to hear about officers and staff who do not uphold the values we demand and have introduced Call It Out, an internal campaign to encourage colleagues to call out behaviour that does not align with our principles.

“It empowers officers and staff to challenge behaviour in the workplace, as well as providing an avenue to confidentially report behaviour into our Professional Standards Department.

“Its aim is to stop such behaviour, by rooting out those prepared to cross the line and to demonstrate very clearly what is not acceptable in Merseyside Police.

“If any officer is found to be behaving in a way that does not meet our high standards we will take robust action to ensure the public across Merseyside can continue to have the utmost confidence in the force.

“I hope the thorough investigation into the actions of Daniel Johnson, and the subsequent sanction, demonstrates that very clearly.”

Det Chief Supt Cheryl Rhodes added, “During the Covid 19 pandemic, the whole country pulled together to keep the virus at bay.

“Our officers were on the frontline during those challenging months, coming into work every day when many worked from home to ensure the NHS and our most vulnerable were safe and protected.

“In holding a party at that time, Daniel Johnson’s behaviour completely flew in the face of that effort. That he worked for a police service tasked with enforcing the very legislation he breached makes his actions all the more disappointing.

“In drinking alcohol while on duty when he could have been called into action as a Firearms Officer, he compromised his ability to perform his role, and the theft of saw blades and rip saws deprived the Force of equipment that might have been used for a policing purpose.

“And by sending homophobic messages about two senior officers to a colleague, and sending a racist image to a colleague, he displayed behaviour completely at odds with our behaviours and standards, breaching the equality and diversity policy and showing a distinct lack of respect for colleagues. This undermined our considerable efforts to be an inclusive force that represents all of our diverse communities.

“We will continue to work closely with our FORE (Focus on Race and Ethnicity) network and LBGT+ Network to discuss the issues this case has raised and ensure that our staff work with the highest ethics and integrity.”

Det Chief Supt Rhodes continued, “Alongside enhanced vetting processes, we work with our staff networks, our Police Federation and Unions, our Independent Advisory Group and community contacts to continue to recruit from all our diverse communities, to help us identify areas where we can develop our policing approach and community engagement.

“Con Johnson’s actions risk seriously undermining the good work of officers and staff, the overwhelming majority of whom consistently strive to protect our communities every day they turn up for work. It is right that Daniel Johnson is no longer a part of Merseyside Police – a service and force that is here to proudly protect and serve the people of Merseyside.”

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