South Yorkshire police officer found guilty of gross misconduct - but keeps his job

A police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct
A police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct
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A South Yorkshire police officer who bombarded a female colleague with questions about her underwear has kept his job - despite being found guilty of gross misconduct.

Sergeant Jeremy Fitzgibbons, aged 47, who was based at Doncaster at the time, broke down in tears when a disciplinary panel told him he could keep his job.

During a hearing in Sheffield, the officer admitted asking his colleague, on a weekly basis, what she was wearing and repeatedly asking if she was wearing a black thong.

The married officer, who also admitted calling his colleague ‘sweetcheeks,’ was issued with a final written warning.

He has worked for South Yorkshire Police for 21 years.

Handing down the decision, Stephen Chappell, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police disciplinary panel, said: “The panel has given due regard to the service of Sgt Fitzgibbons.

“The public was not involved in these allegations but the public would not want an officer to behave in this way.

“Sgt Fitzgibbons has said that he truly regrets his actions and shows such remorse.

“The panel concludes he has learnt a lesson from his actions, albeit at a late stage, and apologised to Officer A.

“The panel also notes the stance of Officer A. She wanted the behaviour to stop and it did.

“The finding of gross misconduct shows this conduct should not be tolerated. However the panel considers a decision short of dismissal, that a final written warning will be appropriate.”

Mr Chappell warned Sgt Fitzgibbons he could face the sack if he is found guilty of anymore breaches of conduct.

Earlier the panel said it could not be proven that Sgt Fitzgibbons had used a sexual innuendo when he sent officer a text that said: "I won’t ask you what I do when you answer the phone'.

Stephen Morley, prosecuting on behalf of South Yorkshire Police, suggested the text was referring to masturbation.

In explaining the panel’s findings Mr Chappell said: “Sgt Fitzgibbons asserts the content of the text message was a reference to what Officer A was wearing and not what he was doing on the telephone.

“He says the innuendo allegation is misconceived.

“The panel have considered all the evidence. The panel were not satisfied that the text should be interpreted as innuendo. Therefore this is not proven."

Addressing the hearing before his fate was decided, Sgt Fitzgibbons said: “I would like to personally apologise to Officer A, I would like to apologise to the force, the public of South Yorkshire and my family for letting them down.

“I have learnt from this and can only offer my sincerest apologies and regret.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "Sgt Fitzgibbons has received a final written warning for gross misconduct. This means the restrictions on his duties will end and he will be deployed to the most appropriate role and location.

"Sgt Fitzgibbons’ behaviour on this occasion, fell considerably short of what is expected of a police officer. The panel, chaired by a legally qualified person, decided that a final written warning was the most appropriate outcome."