Former police officer who drunkenly groped a female colleague and ‘inappropriately’ touched another is found guilty of gross misconduct
A former police officer, who drunkenly groped a female colleague and ‘inappropriately’ touched another, has been found guilty of gross misconduct.
PC Keith Hall, who has retired from Hampshire Police, said he was so drunk after downing eight pints that he had no memory of placing his hand on the female officer’s bottom for several seconds in March, 2022.
However, a hearing was told he later wrote the married woman a letter of apology saying she had helped reveal ‘a dark side of me I did not know existed’.
A disciplinary tribunal found that in May of the same year, he acted inappropriately towards another colleague, Officer B, while on duty by running two fingers down her back.
Both women complained to bosses at Hampshire Constabulary and PC Hall was then investigated.
The tribunal, sitting at Fareham Police Station, ruled that Hall would have been sacked for the two incidents if he had not already left the force.
The tribunal, sitting at Fareham Police Station (pictured), ruled that Hall would have been sacked for the two incidents if he had not already left the force
Assistant Chief Constable Lucy Hutson said: ‘Keith Hall’s behaviour towards two of his colleagues was abhorrent and will never be tolerated. It is not OK to touch people without their consent.
‘Not only has he caused considerable distress to the two women he touched, but he has shown a total lack of understanding for the effect his behaviour has had on them.
‘Inappropriate and sexualised behaviour towards women, whether a colleague or a member of the public, has absolutely no place in policing.
‘We have a zero tolerance approach to anyone who does not meet this standard, and have a safe and confidential process where people can raise their concerns for these to be robustly investigated.’
George Thomas, representing the police force, told the hearing that inappropriate touching was ‘unexpected, unwelcome and without consent’ and showed a lack of respect for the female colleagues.
He added that it amounted to a breach of standards of professional behaviour in respect of authority, respect and courtesy, and discreditable conduct.
Officer A broke down in tears as she explained to the hearing why she made a complaint against Hall, saying: ‘If something happened in the future and I hadn’t said anything, because of all the media attention on the Met, I couldn’t have forgiven myself if something had happened.’
The panel was told that a friend found Officer A in a ‘distressed’ state following the incident.
Officer A told the tribunal that Hall was ‘very, very drunk’ when the incident happened and she later sent a WhatsApp message to Officer B saying: ‘Keith is a f****** predator’.
Officer A told the hearing she did not know PC Hall well at the time but knew he was ‘established in the department for many years’.
She added: ‘I got up and was walking away. I felt his arm come behind me and in like an ushering motion with the palm of his hand onto my bottom.
‘At the time, I was like… did that happen? Do you know what I mean? I was questioning myself.’
The pair then boarded a ferry to get home where another male colleague spotted Officer A and said she looked uncomfortable and as if she ‘did not like the male sat next to her’.
George Thomas, representing Hampshire Constabulary, told the misconduct panel that the male officer described the way Officer A’s ‘whole demeanour changed’ when she saw him and ‘she looked relieved and happy to see [he] was there’.
Mr Thomas said she approached the male colleague and said: ‘I have never been so happy to see you. Please save me. He’s really scaring me.’
The policeman walked her back to a car where she met her husband.
Officer A later confronted PC Hall about what he had done that evening.
She said: ‘I told him he had been over-friendly with his hands and he put his head down in his arms and he said “This sort of thing loses jobs”.
‘I was literally shaking in my boots. I felt so sad to have this conversation with him. I said I wasn’t going to say anything to anybody.’
However, Officer A later reported the incident and tearily told the hearing: ‘My dad put his hand around me in the same way at a family party and it brought back that memory.
‘I have never had to go through anything this before. I have never had to confront a male colleague about something that happened. I am not someone who wants to make trouble for anybody.’
She said that after she had confronted PC Hall, he wrote her a letter to say ‘sorry’, which read: ‘You have shown a dark side in me which I did not know existed.’
Officer A said this particular line in the letter ‘unsettled’ her, telling the hearing: ‘I appreciated he was trying to say sorry but to me it felt like he was hoping I wasn’t going to say anything to anybody.’
In the second incident, Mr Thomas said that Officer B was working a day shift when Hall ‘ran two fingers down her spine from her neck to the bottom of her back’.
Officer B told the hearing his fingers were in a V shape and his hands stopped at her belt line, leaving her ‘shocked’ and she walked away.
He added: ‘It’s the type of behaviour police are expected to prevent and not participate in themselves.’
Mr Thomas said this touching was ‘unexpected’, ‘unwelcome’ and without consent.
A statement read by Hall’s legal representative at the hearing said: ‘I have no recollection of [the first] event due to the alcohol I had consumed.
‘I have reflected my actions and do not believe it was intentional touching.. I believe it was an accident.’
Hall had denied the two allegations saying that he did not remember the one against Officer A because of how much he had drunk and he said that if it had happened it was an accident.
He denied the incident against Officer B happened at all.
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