A Northumbria Police officer is accused of making sexist and discriminatory remarks to two female officers while on duty and asked one “what type of sex” she liked.
PC William Edet is also alleged to have made derogatory comments about a mentally ill woman who reported being sexually abused, and then commented on her breasts to one of the officers.
The allegations were said to have happened in September and October last year, when the officer worked alongside two colleagues he’d never met before.
PC Edet is currently facing a misconduct hearing regarding breaches of the Standards of Professional Behaviour at Houghton Police Station. The hearing, which began on Monday, will determine whether or not the officer’s actions amounted to gross misconduct.
Presenting the case on behalf of the Appropriate Authority, Olivia Checa-Dover said Edet carried out a “pattern of behaviour towards women” and that there was “very little factual dispute about what was said and done”.
The hearing heard that on September 24, PC Edet was put on shift with a female officer, referred to as PC A, whom he had never worked with before.
A conversation soon began regarding relationships, before Edet allegedly asked “what type of sex” the officer liked, before asking if she’d ever had sex on duty. When the officer replied she had not, Edet asked: “why not?”. The officer replied she enjoyed her job and wouldn’t want to get sacked, before Edet said: “only if you get caught”. Ms Checa-Dover said this was “obviously entirely inappropriate”.
The hearing heard that PC A had previously competed in bodybuilding shows, and she showed Edet professional photographs of her in competitions. It is alleged that he then asked her to send sexual pictures to him – which he denies.
Feeling embarrassed, PC A “laughed off” the comment at the time and the two later became Instagram friends. However, PC A later felt “guilt” after hearing PC Edet had allegedly entered into sexual conversations with another police officer and she grew increasingly concerned.
The hearing then heard about PC B, another female officer who was put on duty with Edet a month later. Giving evidence, the officer said within half an hour of meeting, PC Edet engaged in “sexual conversation” and asked her if she was going to the force Christmas party. When she asked if he was, he is alleged to have replied: “No, because I’ll end up f someone” – a comment PC B found “bizarre”.
When the officers were in a car, a member of the public drove past them, PC Edet is alleged to have said he wished to “ride” the female driver. Later, when they were on a door-knock, PC Edet allegedly “randomly” asked PC B if she had her nipples pierced and whether she sent nude pictures of herself to people. The hearing heard PC B found the comments “uncomfortable” and “awkward”.
During their shift, the officer and PC B were tasked with interviewing an alleged victim of a sexual assault, referred to as Miss A throughout the hearing. It is alleged PC Edet told PC B he thought the complainant was “fit” and then commented on her breasts. Ms Checa-Dover said this allegation was “obviously wrong and he knew it was at the time”.
PC Edet was also allegedly lacking empathy or compassion and had an “abrupt tone” when he spoke to the victim and later said to PC B “did you see her t**s?”. The hearing heard that PC Edet accepts he called the complaint “fit”, and that it was a breach of misconduct, but not of gross misconduct.
After leaving the scene, PC Edet allegedly continued talking about the woman’s breasts and PC B said she felt “exhausted and disappointed” after her shift with him due to his constant conversations relating to sex. PC B told the hearing that in the police force, there is regular “flirtatious banter” between colleagues and “innuendo” with regular “dirty jokes” being made.
Giving evidence, PC Edet accepted he asked PC A about whether she’d had sex on duty, saying: “I didn’t mean anything by it, I was just inquiring as her partner was also a police officer at the time.” He said that he also wanted to show an interest in her bodybuilding and so looked at PC A’s pictures, but said it was “not true” that he asked her for “sexy pictures”.
Speaking about asking PC B about pierced nipples, PC Edet denied he “randomly” came out with the question, but said it was part of a wider conversation regarding tattoos and piercings they were both engaging in. He said “I felt comfortable asking these questions, it was more curiosity than sexual.”
He also denied saying he wanted to “ride” a female member of the public who drove past, instead saying he wanted to ride in the Mercedes she was driving, as it was one of his favourite cars. Speaking about the sexual assault complainant, Edet said he “tries to help people as much as I can” and felt he was being empathetic towards her.
Speaking of referring to the victim as fit, Edet said: “It was a stupid comment and I shouldn’t have said it”, adding: ”The comments about her breasts was not meant to be derogatory”. Danielle Hewitt, appearing on behalf of PC Edet, said: “He says his conduct is not in breach as both complainants were happy to engage in this type of discussion. Having a private conversation doesn’t undermine public confidence or discredit the force. He believes his behaviour was appropriate and he was speaking freely.”
The misconduct panel will make a decision this morning.