For­mer PC took drugs panel told

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - KATE WIL­SON news@west­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

AFORMER Bris­tol po­lice con­sta­ble had al­le­ga­tions of gross mis­con­duct proven against her af­ter ad­mit­ting to us­ing cannabis be­fore she took a drugs test.

PC Har­riet Wood, who used to be the neigh­bour­hood beat man­ager in Fil­wood and Knowle West be­fore she re­signed, told her chief in­spec­tor she had been smok­ing cannabis.

The con­fes­sion came three days af­ter she had sub­mit­ted a sam­ple for a test to de­ter­mine if she had con­sumed con­trolled drugs.

A po­lice mis­con­duct hear­ing on Fri­day was told that Ms Wood told her in­spec­tor she had been us­ing cannabis and had done so un­til a week be­fore her ad­mis­sion on April 6 this year.

But the re­sults of the drugs test showed that at the time of test­ing, there were no con­trolled drugs within her sys­tem.

The mis­con­duct hear­ing found she would have been dis­missed had she not re­signed dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Dur­ing the hear­ing the panel heard that Ms Wood had used cannabis “on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions” be­tween Jan­uary and March of this year.

She claimed that she used the drug be­cause she was suf­fer­ing from “anx­i­ety and in­som­nia”.

She al­leged her men­tal health prob­lems were a re­sult of is­sues with her “train­ing and su­per­vi­sion” while at Avon and Som­er­set po­lice.

But An­thony Searle, pre­sent­ing the case, said there was no ev­i­dence to sup­port the claims she had made about her work, or a note from her GP to con­firm her health prob­lems. He also said that even if they were true, that was “not an ex­cuse”. The panel heard that in Oc­to­ber last year Ms Wood had been asked to at­tend an “eth­i­cal in­ter­view” with the anti-cor­rup­tion unit. The fo­cus of the in­ter­view was Ms Wood’s re­la­tion­ship with her part­ner at the time and “his use of con­trolled drugs”.

Dur­ing his sub­mis­sions Mr Searle told the panel that fol­low­ing this in­ter­view Ms Wood was “clearly aware of the se­ri­ous con­cern the force al­ready had about her be­ing as­so­ci­ated with con­trolled drugs”.

Ms Wood did not at­tend Fri­day’s hear­ing, nor did she send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

It was also re­vealed that Ms Wood re­fused to at­tend a for­mal dis­ci­plinary in­ter­view dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr Searle told the panel that she had said: “Since re­sign­ing I am now mov­ing on with my life so I am not will­ing to be in­ter­view.”

In hand­ing down the panel’s de­ci­sion, chair Alex Lock, said Ms Wood’s con­duct did breach stan­dards of pro­fes­sional be­hav­iour – in re­spect to or­ders and in­struc­tions and dis­cred­itable con­duct – and that it was gross mis­con­duct.

Mr Lock added: “The ac­tions of this of­fi­cer would harm the pub­lic con­fi­dence of the po­lice if they were known to the pub­lic.

“It is not ac­cept­able for an of­fi­cer to be en­forc­ing the law dur­ing the day and then break­ing it at night.”

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