Former officer guilty of gross misconduct

A former Cheshire Constabulary officer has been found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct after misusing force systems.

Andrew Birkett, a former police constable based in Crewe, was due to attend an accelerated misconduct hearing on Thursday 26 August in relation to a number of allegations against him.

However, the 32-year-old, who originally joined the force in April 2016, resigned on Thursday 19 August and chose not to participate in the misconduct hearing.

Despite his resignation, the hearing went ahead and Mr Birkett was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour regarding authority, respect and courtesy.

The outcome means that he has now been added to the College of Policing Barred List, meaning he will prevented from working in law enforcement in the future.

The misconduct panel stated that had Mr Birkett still been a serving police officer he would have been dismissed without notice.

The allegations against him came to light in February 2021 after officers working with his former partner, also a serving Cheshire officer, raised concerns about his behaviour towards her.

An investigation was launched by the force’s Professional Standards Department and Mr Birkett was placed on restricted duties.

During the investigation it was established that he had abused his position as a police officer by misusing police systems in order to monitor the activity and movements of his partner. 

On many occasions he would log on to the systems while off duty in order to keep track of what she was doing.

Following the hearing, Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “As Chief Constable for Cheshire I want to send out a clear message that I expect the absolute highest standards of personal and professional behaviour and integrity from all my officers and staff.

“This is essential so that the people of Cheshire have both trust and confidence in the service we deliver.

“Unfortunately, in this case Mr Birkett’s behaviour fell well below the level expected of a serving officer and he grossly undermined the privileged position that his role as a member of Cheshire Constabulary demands and expects.”

Chief Superintendent Chris Warren, Head of the Professional Standards Department, said: “As a serving officer Mr Birkett held a position of trust and he swore an oath in which he promised to abide by the law and the clear guidelines about the standards expected from him, including his responsibilities in relation to accessing and using force systems.

“Birkett was well aware of these standards. Sadly, he chose to ignore them and blatantly misused police systems in order to monitor the whereabouts of his partner. His personal behaviour was totally inappropriate for that of a serving police officer.

“While he resigned before the misconduct hearing took place that does not in any way excuse his behaviour.  Nor does it reduce the impact that his behaviour has had on his former partner and her colleagues.

“I hope that the outcome of the hearing reassures the public that we take any concerns regarding the behaviour of officers extremely seriously and demonstrates that police officers are not above the law.”

Anyone who wishes to make a complaint, or compliment, about the service that they have received from Cheshire Constabulary can contact the Professional Standards Department on 101, or by visiting www.cheshire.police.uk/fo/feedback/tc/thanks-and-complaints/ .

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