Ex-police officer jailed for 20 weeks over racist WhatsApp messages

A former police constable has been jailed for 20 weeks after sending a string of racist WhatsApp memes, including images that mocked the death of George Floyd.

James Watts was serving with West Mercia police in 2020 when he shared the “grossly offensive” material in a group chat, which included former colleagues at a Warwickshire prison.

After a police inquiry, the 31-year-old was found to have posted 10 offensive memes in May and June 2020, including one featuring a white dog wearing Ku Klux Klan clothing and another showing a kneeling mat with Floyd’s face printed on it.

Sentencing Watts at Birmingham magistrates court on Tuesday, the deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said he had “undermined the confidence the public has in the police”.

“At the time of these offences, you were a police officer – a person to whom the public looks up to to uphold the law – but you did the opposite," 彼は言った. “Your behaviour brings the criminal justice system as a whole into disrepute. The hostility that you demonstrated on the basis of race makes this offending so serious that I cannot deal with it by a community penalty or a fine.

“A message must go out and that message can only go out through an immediate sentence of imprisonment.”

He said he did not agree “this was stupidity or foolishness” and said the posts went “far beyond that”.

Other images Watts sent made jokes about Floyd’s death featuring pictures of George of the Jungle and the children’s game Guess Who.

Floyd was killed in Minneapolis on 25 五月 2020 by the police officer Derek Chauvin, who pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck despite him repeatedly saying he could not breathe.

Another message posted by Watts, which was found after a Twitter user claimed a serving police officer had posted racist memes, mocked a line in the movie Jaws.

Watts, of Castle Bromwich, バーミンガム, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 10 counts of sending a grossly offensive or menacing message by a public communication network.

In police interviews, Watts had accepted the messages were racist in nature.

A co-defendant, the West Mercia police constable Joann Jinks, 41, from Redditch, Worcestershire, is due to stand trial at Westminster magistrates court on 23 August charged with three counts of the same offence.

The Independent Office for 警察 Conduct (IOPC) announced in April this year that charges had been brought against Watts and Jinks under the Communications Act 2003.