Douglas Macdonald: Woman groomed by South Yorkshire cop as a child told to consider policing career
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A woman alleged to have been groomed by a South Yorkshire Police officer when she was a teenage girl has been recommended to consider a career in the police service.
Douglas Macdonald’s behaviour towards ‘Miss A’ while she was aged 14 to 16, and he was aged 30 to 32, was found to amount to gross misconduct.
The disgraced cop resigned before a police misconduct hearing but the ruling was that he would have been sacked had he still worked for the force.
The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service once allegations about Macdonald had been made and investigated by the police, but a decision not to prosecute was made.
This is despite the allegations, including Macdonald posing as a modelling agent to speak to adolescents online, being described as "probably the most serious type" the legally qualified chairman of the misconduct panel has heard since he began his role in 2016.
Nine allegations of misconduct by Macdonald were found by the panel to be true on the balance of probabilities, including a sexual interest in children and adolescents, and sexual communication with a child.
During the misconduct hearing, it emerged that the cop first approached Miss A online in May 2017, and subsequently exchanged sexual and nude photographs with her and showed her "forceful" pornography.
The following year, she ran away from her home and, "in a twist of fate", was picked up in a police car by Macdonald, who had been assigned the missing person case, and saw her in person for the first time that day.
Their two-year "online sexual relationship" did not stop, the misconduct hearing was told.
In the misconduct panel hearing outcome, which is published on South Yorkshire Police's website, chairman Stephen Gowland, says: "We want to finish by praising Miss A for having the courage to come forward and report this matter. She showed strength and resolve and even gathered some additional evidence in relation to the case.
"We want to wish Miss A well for the future and given what we have seen in this case she may well want to consider a career in law or in the police service as we believe she will do well in an area where she has to deal with difficult situations.
"We hope the outcome of this case will go some way to restoring Miss A’s trust in the police."
He added: "Nobody should ever be subjected to such treatment especially not from a police officer who should be someone people can trust.
"The proven allegations in this case are probably the most serious type that I have dealt with having chaired cases since 2016. The behaviour was abhorrent and very worrying and potentially very harmful."
Explaining the decision not to prosecute Macdonald, the CPS said the evidence "did not meet [the] legal test for a prosecution."
Miss A asked for a review of the decision, and according to the CPS a prosecutor with no previous knowledge of the case examined the evidence available, and came to the same decision.
The misconduct panel concluded that Macdonald's conduct was "towards the high end of seriousness".