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Kent Police sergeants accused of acting in a sexually inappropriate way and abusing position of power

A pair of police sergeants have been accused of making inappropriate comments about female trainees and turning their team into a “boys’ club”.

Jamie Howard and Nicholas Grainger persistently messaged female constables and made them feel “uncomfortable”, a misconduct hearing heard.

Sgt Howard, who joined Kent Police in 2002, and Sgt Grainger, who joined in 2006, deny acting in a sexually inappropriate, intimidating and abusive way and abusing their position of power.

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Five female constables gave evidence against them on the first day of the five-day hearing at Kent Police Headquarters, chaired by John Bassett.

A constable in the sergeants’ team, Naomi Guckenheim, said she was made to feel uncomfortable by the pair watching her from the bar at a Christmas party in the Tudor Marriott Hotel on 14 December 2017.

Pc Guckenheim said: “Sgt Howard and Sgt Grainger were at the bar looking in the direction of the dance floor. I felt a little uncomfortable, at which point I moved myself and then I was aware Sgt Grainger had moved himself too.

“I believe Sgt Grainger moved himself so he could continue to watch me on the dance floor.”

Pc Guckenheim and Pc Chloe Ttsaris said in separate statements that officers must be “seen to be doing what the sergeants want” or they would be given the worst jobs.

They also said they felt “pressure” to respond to “innocuous” but unwanted WhatsApp, Facebook and text messages from Sgt Grainger because of his position.

Pc Ttsaris said she blocked Sgt Grainger on WhatsApp last year because she did not want to talk with him after she began a relationship with another officer.

She said: “When I started to ignore him, I feel the messages were inappropriate because they were persistent.”

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Pc Samantha Luck said she heard Sgt Grainger speaking with another sergeant about whether prospective female trainees were “pretty”.

She said: “They were looking at the new female members’ Facebook profiles and commenting on whether they were pretty or not. I found it inappropriate.”

Pc Jane Lowe said the sergeants’ watch was a “boys’ club” and she moved teams in 2017 because she felt uncomfortable in it.

She said: “I didn’t feel part of that (club) and I didn’t feel part of the team.”

The charges amount to gross misconduct if found true, and a decision will be given on Friday.

Press Association

Article source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/kent-police-sergeants-sexually-inappropriate-abuse-position-power-boys-club-a9185236.html

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