An external investigation has been launched into "abhorrent content" shared by Gwent Police officers that was found on an officer's phone after his death.
Gwent Police's Chief Constable Pam Kelly said that Wiltshire Police is conducting an independent investigation on behalf of the force into what she called a "toxic culture" after the messages were found which showed officers shared racist, sexist, and misogynistic messages. The messages were shared with the Sunday Times by the family of the dead officer.
In a statement to The Times, Ms Kelly said: "The content we have been made aware of is abhorrent and any officers identified by the investigation as having breached either professional standards or the criminal threshold will be held accountable. The content shared with us paints a picture of a toxic culture which does not represent the majority of our service. We have also made it clear that those who do not uphold these standards have no place in Gwent police — or in policing.”
The content was discovered on a phone belonging to a dead policeman, Ricky Jones, by his daughter following his death in January 2020. Messages on the phone show serving and retired officers discussing sexual harassment of junior female colleagues, making racist remarks, such as "The Great Muslim Bakeoff" when referring to Grenfell Tower, homophobic jibes and officers offering to illegally hide money.
The messages were shared with journalists at The Sunday Times who carried out an investigation into the force. The investigation also reported that female officers were dismissed after raising allegations of inappropriate sexual misconduct carried out by their colleagues. We have r eported on some of those issues here.
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The police force, which covers Newport and Gwent, has been at the centre of allegations about behaviour within its rank for a number of years. In September three senior members of Gwent Police were found to have committed behaviour amounting to gross misconduct. Former Gwent Police chief superintendent Mark Warrender was found to have committed gross misconduct by "inappropriate touching" while he and two senior colleagues were found to have held an "inappropriate conversation" with a more junior member of staff as a police social event and “failed to challenge and report” the alleged improper behaviour of others in that conversation.