South Yorkshire detective cleared of all allegations at misconduct hearing

A South Yorkshire Police officer who was accused of gross misconduct has been cleared of all the allegations against him.

By Dan Hayes
Thursday, 29th April 2021, 5:35 pm

DC Craig Winkless was accused by a witness he met in the course of his duties of sexual assault, inappropriate sexualised comments and continued inappropriate contact by text message thereafter.

However, at a hearing today at South Yorkshire Police’s professional standards department in Chapeltown, he was cleared of all the allegations against him.

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South Yorkshire detective Craig Winkless was cleared of all the allegations against him.

The four-day hearing heard evidence from a number of parties relating to a visit by DC Winkless to the witness’ home on April 25, 2019.

He had visited the witness’ home address as part of an investigation into an allegation of assault by the witness’ ex-partner.

However, while at the address, it was alleged he made inappropriate and unprofessional sexualised comments and inappropriately touched the witness in a sexualised manner.

Furthermore, after leaving the address it is alleged that the officer made inappropriate and unprofessional contact with the witness by text message.

South Yorkshire Police’s professional standards department said that had the allegations been proved or admitted, DC Winkless would have been found guilty of gross misconduct.

However, the panel decided that the complainant’s evidence lacked credibility in several key ways.

Firstly, the witness’ allegation of sexual assault was not made at her original interview, and reference to it only appeared in text messages to the witness’ family and friends some weeks later.

Secondly, the witness’ claims not to have read a retraction statement relating to her ex-partner’s alleged assault were also found not to be credible.

And thirdly, the witness’ text messages to DC Winkless – thanking him for his help in her case on two separate occasions – did not indicate someone who was angry with the officer over a sexual assault, the panel found.

The panel also found that allegations of inappropriate messaging after the initial interview, while not disproven, were likely to have been caused by a misunderstanding.

The legally qualified chair of the professional standards hearing, Mr Akbar Khan, ended by thanking the witness for reporting the concerns to them.

South Yorkshire Police said they would not be commenting on the case.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.