Sheffield PC given final written warning over racial slur after 'joke badly misfires'
A Sheffield PC who used a racial slur in a ‘joke’ with a colleague which ‘badly misfired’ has been found guilty of gross misconduct.
PC David Warwick used the term ‘P***’ in a conversation with a colleague, a police disciplinary panel found.
A South Yorkshire Police misconduct hearing concluded that his actions amounted to gross misconduct and he should be issued with a final written warning.
The panel heard how Mr Warwick had been discussing with a colleague and long-term friend his successful application for promotion to sergeant when the colleague joked that she would put in a complaint about him.
He is said to have replied jokingly: “Oh what would you say? That I called you a P***.”
Mr Warwick denied making the remark but the panel found that the allegation had been proved and it amounted to a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour relating to discreditable conduct and equality and diversity.
A second allegation of gross misconduct relating to another conversation was found not to be proved.
Mr Warwick admitted saying upon hearing that a suspect’s father was a 105-year-old Asian male ‘maybe I should start eating curry’.
He accepted it was a ‘glib’ comment denied it was a racist one, and the panel ruled that it was a ‘clumsy remark’ but did not amount to gross misconduct.
The panel heard how the officer to whom Mr Warwick had made the ‘P***’ remark, Temporary Police Sergeant Baldeesh Boora-Brown, had mentioned it to her husband and another colleague, who had in turn reported it, but had not made a complaint herself.
She told the hearing that she did not feel there was ‘anything malicious’ in what Mr Warwick said and that she does ‘not wish Dave to be dismissed over this matter’.
In a written notice, Eileen Herlihy, who chaired the hearing, states: “We find that the officer was attempting to make a joke in response to TPS Boora-Brown’s quip that she would have to put in a complaint about him.
“The officer’s response was an attempt at levity, a knee-jerk response. He is trying to think of a witty riposte but unfortunately the joke badly misfires.
“In his response he focuses on TPS Boora-Brown’s protected characteristic as a British Indian to whom the P word is highly offensive.
“We find that the officer failed to treat her with respect, and failed to consider the impact of his language upon TPS Boora-Brown and that such behaviour discredits the police service and undermines public confidence in it.”
Ms Herlihy said that in light of the panel’s findings the ‘only appropriate outcome is a final written warning’.
“A final written warning is, in itself, a serious outcome, because it conveys to the officer, the service at large and the public that any future departure from proper standards by PC Warwick would result, almost invariably, in dismissal,” she said.
“It will last for two years. It conveys to the service and to the public the level of seriousness with which the facts were objectively viewed in the context of the public interest….
“In our view, the facts and circumstances in this particular case, are such that it is not necessary and would be disproportionate to dismiss PC Warwick for a single isolated incident, set against an otherwise unblemished record.”