Essex Police officer dismissed after changing witness statement
PUBLISHED: 08:42 19 February 2019
An officer serving with Essex Police has been found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour after altering a witness statement in a shoplifting case.
PC Jack Harrison, who was based in Grays at the time, attended a store in the town on March 16, 2018, after Essex Police received a report of an offence being committed.
PC Harrison spoke to an employee at the store in order to take a witness statement and obtain a receipt for the stolen goods. After forgetting to ask for the receipt, PC Harrison altered the statement before including it in the official case file.
At the bottom of the witness statement, taken on March 16, PC Harrison had written the sentence: “I can produce a receipt for the items as exhibit [redacted]/02”.
When spoken to by another officer several days later, the witness assured PC Harrison’s colleague that they had not been asked to provide a receipt by PC Harrison, and nor had they provided one. Due to this inconsistency further evidence was needed to charge the suspect for the offence, who later pleaded guilty to the attempted theft at court.
When challenged regarding the receipt, PC Harrison denied providing this without the knowledge of the witness, and denied adding the line at the bottom of their statement.
In his interview with the force’s Professional Standards Department, he later admitted the misconduct.
Following a misconduct hearing at Chelmsford Civic Centre, which took place on February 18, PC Harrison was found to have breached the professional standards of honesty and integrity and duties and responsibilities.
The panel was chaired by Independent Legally Qualified Chair Ms Monica Daley-Campbell.
Since being accused of misconduct, PC Harrison had been on restricted duties and will now be dismissed from the force.
Detective Superintendent Dean Chapple from the Professional Standards Department said: “PC Harrison’s actions were not only wrong they could have prevented bringing an offender to justice. He intentionally altered a witness statement and then deliberately lied to his supervisor when questioned.
“Whilst a simple error in forgetting to obtain a receipt, a matter which he could have easily resolved, he made the wrong decisions and continued to insist that the witness statement was correct until he was interviewed. Altering witness statements undermines public confidence and trust and their expectation that Police officers are honest and trustworthy when taking statements and presenting evidence.”