An officer that was dismissed without notice for taking coffee during a search in Bradford in 2020 has appealed the decision against West Yorkshire Police (WYP) and won his case.
The tribunal which was heard remotely last Monday heard how PC James Wright was dismissed by WYP after a misconduct hearing in July last year that heard he took some coffee in June 2020 during a premises search.
The former PC accepted that his conduct amounted to misconduct, but denied that he had been dishonest, as he believed that the owner of the coffee would not be found, and the coffee was thrown away.
In evidence to the panel, the former police officer said: “after being suspended and being interviewed and having almost a year to reflect on my actions I have come to realise that I was in error, not only was I in error of force policy, which clearly states that any officer in uniform or on duty has no right to any found property, nor are they allowed to take any property other than for the purposes of investigation or booking into stores.
On top of that, I believe that that property itself should not have been taken by me on the simple fact that it did not belong to me.”
He added: “When it all came together and I read the statements of the other officers and considered how my actions might have made them feel at the time, how my actions might have made members of the public feel at the time, I believe that is when I felt the weight of what I had done.”
The tribunal took the former officer’s culpability, harm, aggravating factors, and mitigating factors into consideration before deciding whether to quash the dismissal.
Chairman of the tribunal Sara Fenoughty noted that the officer, who had spent time in the Army, was not a particularly experienced police officer and was uncertain about his actions when he took the coffee. He had joined the police three years prior in 2017.
When he took the coffee, the officer had said: “I think I’ll be alright to take some, it’s going to go in the bin anyway, what a waste.”
The tribunal found this consistent with his evidence that he would not have taken it if he thought it would not be allowed. The tribunal also noted he had not tried to conceal his behaviour.
Mr Wright accepted the fact that he should not have taken the coffee and said he thought the coffee had been “abandoned” and that the owner could not be traced.
He said he had taken steps to find out who was the tenant at the property was, and that the coffee was likely to belong to the tenant, who had been involved in criminal behaviour.
Representatives of Mr Wright and WYP agreed in December that the dismissal decision should be quashed and replaced with a final written warning.
Mr Wright’s representatives and WYP agreed that the former police officer would be reinstated with back pay due from 26 July 2021 to 31 January 2022.
The tribunal concluded: “The tribunal determined the appellant’s behaviour amounted to gross misconduct and decided that a final written warning was the appropriate outcome.”
Asian Standard has reached out to West Yorkshire Police for a comment. Please check back regularly for updates.