Final warning for police officer who contacted woman accused of harassment on Instagram

November 04 2020
Final warning for police officer who contacted woman accused of harassment on Instagram

AN “empathetic and compassionate” police officer has been given a final warning after befriending a vulnerable woman accused of harassing her ex.

But PC Jonny Wall's actions were not sexually motivated, a misconduct panel found.

The officer, who was based in Emersons Green during the incident in December last year, was described as “perfectly the wrong” person to help the suicidal woman, who had been accused of harassment after her relationship ended.

After meeting the “heartbroken” woman, named only as Miss A at the hearing, he started a lengthy conversation via texts and Instagram messages because he thought he could solve her problems.

The panel found that the officer and ended up as a “go-between” between Miss A and the former partner who had accused her of harassment, referred to as Mr B – but the officer’s actions were not sexually motivated.

PC Wall, who has 20 years’ experience, was handed a final written warning for his misconduct by the panel.

Panel chair Anna Vigars told the hearing at the Avon and Somerset Police HQ in Portishead on October 30: “PC Wall said he was happy to help because of their military backgrounds and he had been depressed himself. He accepted he shouldn’t have made contact on Instagram.

He found himself in a situation made by his own conduct. His initial contact with Miss A was unnecessary and wholly ill-advised.

We’re completely satisfied there was never any intention to seek to build a sexual relationship – but he wrongly saw himself as someone who could solve her problems.

He is someone of huge empathy and compassion. He is able to defuse situations with warmth and humanity. We have no doubt that’s what he intended to do.

However, PC Wall was perfectly the wrong officer for Miss A because he thought he could be the person to save her from herself.”

Ms Vigars said the officer should have known that contacting the vulnerable woman on Instagram was totally inappropriate and risked discrediting the police force.

She said PC Wall should not have wavered from telling Miss A not to contact Mr B but instead he “became a go-between” and embedded her sense of being a victim.

Despite initially advising against contacting Mr B, PC Wall suggested that she wrote a letter to him but did not send it. At her request he called to ask if Mr B would accept it so they could have “closure” because “this isn’t going to go away”.

When the officer was “no longer able to help”, Miss A went to confront Mr B.

Miss A made numerous threats to take her own life.

Representing the force, Mark Ley-Morgan said PC Wall’s failure to report concerns for her welfare for several days was “a serious dereliction of duty”.

But Ms Vigars disagreed and said the officer was entitled to make an assessment of the seriousness of the threats.

Explaining his actions, PC Wall previously told the hearing: “This chap [Mr B] had promised her the world. They’d had a fantastic 10 days and he just ended it without reason. I could relate to it. I felt sorry for her.

I thought if I could impart some wisdom it could only be a good thing.

I joined the police service to help people. I wanted to give her peace of mind.”

Defending, Ramin Parkooh said: “There’s no lack of integrity – just bad judgment with good intentions.”

Ms Vigars said a final written warning was necessary to restore public confidence in the police force.

By Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporting Service