Statement by Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger concerning the gross misconduct case brought against former officer Simon Hurwood:
“The conduct of the officer at the centre of this case, Simon Hurwood, is shameful and my thoughts are foremost with the victims of his completely unacceptable actions.
“He is no longer with the force and I am pleased that the panel has concluded that if he were a serving police officer, he would have been dismissed.
“It was important that the gross misconduct hearing took place as it sends out a clear message that such behaviour in the past, the present or future will not be tolerated by Cleveland Police.
“A hearing was also necessary to ensure Simon Hurwood was placed on a barring list for any future police employment.
“The fact that Hurwood behaved in this way whilst employed by Cleveland Police is deeply regrettable; bringing him to account marks a significant step in our ongoing work to transform professional standards within the force.
“I set the Strategic Direction for standards reform in Cleveland Police in December 2015. Since then, work has been driven forward by the Force and my Office, to replace the former Professional Standards Department with a new Directorate of Standards and Ethics. At the time that work started, I made clear that we would be making significant investment into this department and in training all staff and officers to ensure we became a lead force in this area.
“As part of that ongoing transformation, and with the full support of the new Chief Constable Mike Veale, we have invested heavily in a counter corruption unit to help empower victims and witnesses of inappropriate behaviour. We will ensure past perpetrators are brought to account and that such behaviour has no place in our force of the future.
“Part of that investment included every officer and member of staff attending an Everyone Matters workshop and raising awareness of the confidential reporting contact system set up specifically to allow witnesses and victims to come forward to report matters anonymously and with complete confidence that such reports would be investigated.
“For many years Hurwood got away with his behaviour; it was an anonymous report under the confidential reporting arrangements that first alerted the force and sparked the investigation that led to him being brought to account.
“This case sends out a clear message that abuse of power will not be tolerated in Cleveland Police. We will root it out, we will investigate and we will bring those responsible to account.
“The Senior Investigating Officer in this disciplinary case has liaised appropriately with the Crown Prosecution Service and it has been concluded there is insufficient evidence at this stage to support criminal charges.
“Properly, in cases of this nature, there is a victim’s right to review of that decision and that process is currently underway. Arrangements are being made for an independent force to undertake the review. Should the review suggest criminal charges are appropriate or should new evidence come to light, the decision can be revisited.
“In addition, I already have scheduled a scrutiny session to address force progress on recommendations by IOPC, HMIC and UNISON in relation to country-wide concerns around abuse of authority.
“I will include in that session a detailed examination of the lessons that can be learned from this case and any further measures that can be brought to bear to root out corruption and misconduct. As with all the minutes of my scrutiny programme, they will be published online so that the public can see the structured way in which I hold Cleveland Police to account for this and a whole range of other issues.
“Today my thoughts are with the women Hurwood exploited during his policing career and I want them to know that they are not to blame for what happened to them.
“If any victim needs access to free, confidential support, I would urge them to get in touch with Victim Care and Advice Service on 0303 040 1099 or email@example.com.”
Posted on Thursday 1st November 2018