A Brighton police officer has been sacked for gross misconduct for “preying” on female colleagues on work nights out.
PC Lochlan Bashford, 23, followed one new colleague round a nightclub, even tapping her bum, despite her moving to get away from him.
He told another colleague she should come home with him after she’d made it clear she was in a long-term relationship – and when she rejected him, turned to another lesbian comment and said “you always wanted to f*** a man, come back with me”.
Today, a disciplinary panel at Sussex Police HQ found him guilty of gross misconduct.
The hearing, which started on Monday, was told both incidents had come after he had been given warnings for his behaviour while at work, when he referred to women as “birds” and harassing a colleague for a date.
Yesterday, he said that he accepted his comments to two of his colleagues had been wrong but added that he had not realised the woman he followed around the dancefloor was not interested, saying: “At no stage did she say leave me alone or anything like that.”
He said he had joined the force at the age of 19 and had little social contact with anyone who wasn’t a colleague, and so expected if he was to have a relationship, it would be with a fellow officer.
But under cross-examination from Sussex Police’s barrister Briony Ballard, he said: “I haven’t treated Sussex Police as some sort of Tinder.”
He added: “I haven’t been trained in how to navigate romantic attachments.
“I have tried to take steps to address my behaviour so nothing like this ever happens again. In the last year I have learned from the mistakes I have made and I wholeheartedly apologise for them.”
On Monday, the colleague he had followed around the nightclub said: “I felt like I was being preyed on, that I was a target. There was no one else he was behaving like this to in the room.
“I was being singled out and no matter what I was doing, moving away or turning away, it was just relentless and there was no let up or way out.”
Chair of the panel Ogheneruona Iguyovwe said: “PC Bashford apologised for his behaviour at various points but the panel was not clear he was aware of the impact of his behaviour.
“He seemed to have failed to see the importance of non-visual cues.”
She said his “deliberate and targeted” behaviour in the nightclub had left his colleague genuinely distressed, and if the wider public had become aware of his language and behaviour, it would have a serious reputational risk.
She said: “There’s widespread concern about the interactions between male and female police officers.
“Accordingly, the panel determined that the level of harm in this case is high and PC Bashford’s conduct amounts to gross misconduct.”