Male UK police officer ‘manipulated’ female abuse victim, panel hears

A male police officer used his position of authority to “emotionally manipulate” a domestic abuse victim, asking her out for cocktails as he tried to begin a romantic relationship with her, a misconduct panel has heard.

The police constable, a domestic abuse officer, is accused of “coercing and controlling” the young woman and “sexualising” their relationship when he was working on allegations that she had been abused by her partner.

He bombarded the woman with inappropriate messages, hugged and kissed her on the cheek and invited her to his home, it is alleged. The woman, named only as Female A, said his behaviour made her “paranoid about male police officers” and scared to call 999.

The identity of the middle-aged officer – who could be sacked for the alleged offences – cannot be revealed as he has been granted anonymity at a misconduct hearing.

At first, the vulnerable woman felt the officer was being “friendly and supportive”, but the barrister Victoria von Watcher, who is presenting the case, told the hearing in Eastleigh that he started to send the woman kisses in messages, sent a selfie from his work Christmas party, called her “hun”, invited her for cocktails, and messaged her until midnight about his failed marriage.

He sent up to 18 messages in a day, hugged her after the partner’s court case and kissed her on her cheek, it was alleged.

Von Watcher said the officer was “sexually motivated” and his messages “do not display the correct degree of relationship between him and a professional client”.

She said: “It’s important to remember she was a vulnerable person, a victim of domestic abuse, highly suggestible, and to be treated with particular care. The reality is that he treated her in a way that he would not have treated a male; in coercive, controlling behaviour and in the way he addressed her. That in itself sexualised the relationship.”

After the officer’s alleged behaviour in 2019 came to light, the woman was interviewed by officers and told them: “It’s made me paranoid, especially around male police officers.”

Describing her mental state when Officer A was contacting her, she added: “I was a big mess emotionally and physically. I felt utterly miserable and worthless, I was in a terrible place and I spiralled. My whole life was falling apart and I didn’t notice what he was doing because I was being naive.”

The officer denies the offences and the hearing continues.

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