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Hadleigh police officer Adam Long, who sent inappropriate text messages to vulnerable woman, handed final written warning

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A Suffolk police officer who sent inappropriate text messages to a vulnerable woman has been handed a final written warning.

PC Adam Long, 45, was the subject of a misconduct hearing in Ipswich last Monday after an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The disciplinary hearing was told PC Long, who has been based at Hadleigh Police Station since 2019, faced allegations he had acted inappropriately towards a member of the public in conduct that breached expected standards.

A Suffolk police officer who sent inappropriate text messages to a vulnerable woman has been handed a final written warning. Stock image
A Suffolk police officer who sent inappropriate text messages to a vulnerable woman has been handed a final written warning. Stock image

Between February and March last year he sent her a string of text messages which he accepted were unprofessional and inappropriate.

He suggested meeting the woman, only identified as Miss A, at her home, although it appeared they never actually met or spoke directly to each other.

When the woman interpreted messages sent by him as an attempt to form a sexual relationship she challenged him about his behaviour and broke off contact.

A report published after the hearing said the policeman admitted he had exchanged inappropriate messages with the woman - who had been in contact with police initially as she was a victim of domestic violence - between February 18, 2021 and March 14, 2021.

The panel overseeing the case said they found the officer's behaviour 'lacked integrity and accordingly breached the standard of honesty and integrity'.

"The panel finds that the actions of PC Long would be likely to undermine public trust and confidence in the police and that, as such, the officer’s involvement with Miss A breaches the standard of discreditable conduct," they added.

It was concluded that the police officer's actions amounted to gross misconduct.

Paul Wakerley, PC Long's counsel, told the hearing his behaviour could not be described as 'predatory' - and therefore could not require a more serious disciplinary action - as 'that would involve clear thinking and manipulative behaviour which PC Long did not demonstrate'.

He added there were no allegations that the initial contact between the two parties was for anything other than a policing purpose and was professional.

Neither did PC Long use his position to pursue the relationship, nor to attempt to meet, discover her appearance or engage in any way outside of policing purpose, Mr Wakerley added, which he said were all features that made the case 'significantly less serious and therefore deserving of less serious action'.

The panel accepted that PC Long did not deliberately target Miss A and was not predatory, the inappropriate contact was for a brief period of time, and the communications prior to February 18 between the two parties had been appropriate.

The hearing was told the policeman had joined Suffolk Police in September 1998, when he was initially posted to Sudbury.

PC Long had been in his Safer Neighbourhood team since October 2018 and at Hadleigh Police Station since April 2019, the panel was told.

They accepted that there had never been physical contact between the two parties, that it was a brief exchange of messages over a period of four days, and that previous contact was for a policing purpose.

"Despite PC Long being originally motivated by a desire to help Miss A and resolve the matters for which she had sought police assistance, he knew it was wrong to communicate with her as he did and the seriousness of that must be properly understood," the panel said.

"However, the panel has concluded, given the particular circumstances of his case, that PC Long’s misconduct, although serious, does not warrant dismissal without notice.

"For that reason, the panel has come to the decision that the appropriate and proportionate outcome in all the circumstances is one of final written warning."

After the hearing, IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “Officers receive training emphasising the importance of maintaining strict professional boundaries with people they come into contact with during the course of their work.

"This is essential for maintaining public confidence in policing.

"The allegations were aggravated in this case as PC Long knew the woman was vulnerable.

"The disciplinary panel found that his actions had stepped over the boundary and the final written warning he has received will stay in place for five years.”