Merseyside Police Sergeant disciplined for referring to ‘colleague’s ethnicity in an inappropriate way’

Merseyside Police has confirmed that a Police Sergeant has been given a final written warning. The sanction was imposed following a two-day misconduct hearing on 1 and 2 August 2022.

A panel, overseen by an independent Legally Qualified Chair, held that Sergeant Craig Baker was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour, namely Equality and Diversity, Authority, Respect and Courtesy and Discreditable Conduct, to the level of gross misconduct.

The allegations were brought to the panel following a thorough and extensive investigation by the Merseyside Police Professional Standards Department into the conduct of the officer during conversations with a colleague on Wednesday 27 August 2021, in which he referred to his colleague’s ethnicity in an inappropriate way. He failed to respect his colleague or to treat him with courtesy, subsequently bringing the police service into disrepute.

The Legally Qualified Chair gave Sgt Baker a final written warning, which will remain on his record for five years.

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley said, “We acknowledge the outcome of the hearing. I must stress that we demand the highest possible standards from all our officers and staff and the public, quite rightly, have high expectations of their behaviour and Merseyside Police is committed to ensuring that we treat all our communities with dignity and respect.

“When we receive information about those alleged to have fallen below those standards, we will always thoroughly investigate to ensure the public and our staff can continue to have the utmost confidence in the force.

“I acknowledge the impact this incident will have had on the other officer involved – actions such as this can, and do, have a hugely detrimental impact. On behalf of the force I want to extend our apologies to him.

“I would also like to reassure the wider community that we will not allow individuals to damage the good name built up by the vast majority of our officers and staff who do an exemplary job and serve our communities with compassion, integrity and professionalism at all times.

“To that end we will continue to work closely with our FORE (Focus on Race and Ethnicity) network to discuss the issues this case has raised and to continue to ensure that our staff work with the highest ethics and integrity. 

“The Chief Constable has already spoken about her determination to ensure that Merseyside Police is an anti-racist organisation and fully inclusive employer, which will work to ensure that all our communities can have trust and confidence in the service we provide.

“Sergeants are the backbone of operational policing and should lead by example by upholding the highest standards of behaviour and integrity. When leaders fail to do so, action will always be taken. Racism has no place in Merseyside Police.

“The faith invested in Sergeant Baker to uphold high standards of behaviour was found to be misplaced, and he has been given a five year final written warning (as decided by the panel).

“I know there will be colleagues in the organisation who will understandably feel let down. I can assure them that this investigation has been assessed as gross misconduct throughout by the appropriate authority and this is defined as a breach of the standards of professional behaviour that is so serious that dismissal is warranted.

“When we receive the Chair’s written decision we will read it thoroughly to determine the options are available to the force in relation to the sanction given in this case.

“As with all misconduct investigations, it requires confidence from those coming forward who are subjected to, or who witness, such comments or behaviour. The vast majority of officers and staff will challenge derogatory and offensive language and behaviour, which means we can ensure the highest possible standards are met. When they are not met, we will take swift and effective action.

“I hope this outcome provides some reassurance to the wider public that our organisation does not tolerate the use of racist behaviour, and that they can feel confident that any reports will be taken seriously and will be fully supported.”

Deputy Chief Constable Critchley added, “Being a fully inclusive employer is one of our highest priorities and there is clearly a responsibility on us as an employer to ensure all officers and staff feel respected and included. In doing so, we hope we can maintain the trust and confidence of all our communities, by both representing and protecting them.

“The national Police Race Action Plan, published in May, set out a range of objectives for forces up and down the country to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system affecting Black people.

“We fully support its aims and had already begun work on our own inclusion strategy to drive change in our organisation. The work already undertaken includes additional support for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority officers through recruitment and ongoing mentoring, and will include an education programme for officers and staff to develop awareness of diversity.

“We have also invested in new roles created to improve inclusion at Merseyside Police and we work closely with our own Focus on Race and Ethnicity Network (FORE Network) to discuss and address any concerns raised by staff, and foster greater understanding.”

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