Gwent Police HQ
Gwent Police HQ in Cwmbran Credit: Google Street View

NEW claims of sexual misconduct at Gwent Police strengthen the case for its new chief to be appointed from outside the force, it has been claimed. 

According to BBC Wales a senior civilian manager at the force was allowed to remain in his job for nine months after a complaint he had sent scores of sexually suggestive messages to a colleague. 

It has reported he was only suspended, in May 2023, after a second colleague had complained and is now facing a disciplinary hearing. 

The first complaint was made, according to the BBC, after his colleague was shocked to see him leading a training session on staff conduct following the murder in 2021, by a then serving Met Police officer, of Sarah Everard. 

BBC Wales has reported it is alleged the sexually suggestive messages were sent over several months after the woman’s appointment in 2010 and that she had told the manager they were unwanted and he should stop. 

The claims are the latest around behaviour and standards at Gwent Police and last month the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced two serving officers and one former officer would face gross misconduct hearings into the sharing of offensive messages. 

Former Newport City Council deputy leader Mike Hamilton, who is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner, said he wasn’t surprised by the allegations which he had only learned of from the media. 

“I’m not aware of this particular case but I’m aware they (Gwent Police) have a very, very bad track record of dealing with this kind of issue,” he said. 

Conservative candidate Hannah Jarvis said the report suggests Gwent Police has failed to learn lessons from previous complaints within the force and Plaid Cymru’s Donna Cushing has also raised concern at “misogynistic behaviour within the force, previously”.

Mr Hamilton has already said a new chief constable, who the Police and Crime Commissioner to be elected on May 2 will have to appoint, should be from outside the force. 

Current chief constable Pam Kelly, who was appointed in 2017, announced in March she intends to retire later this year and she would “work closely with the newly elected commissioner to appoint my successor”. 

Mr Hamilton said his belief is a new chief must be from outside the force and that the latest reports only support that. He said: “I have no confidence in the senior management team. 

“This adds strength to it to be honest,”  Mr Hamilton said of his promise to appoint from outside the force.

Conservative Ms Jarvis said the manager should have been “isolated from the workplace whilst under investigation” and also raised concern at how the force has handled misconduct allegations.

She said: “Sadly, Gwent Police has faced a number of sexual misconduct incidents over the past two years. It’s frustrating to see lessons do not appear to have been learnt from these incidents and that a more robust stance has not been adopted.

“I have already pledged, that if elected, I will review disciplinary procedures for Gwent Police for both uniformed and civilian staff. I will take a zero tolerance approach towards sexual misconduct, which is critical to restoring public confidence in the force.”

Plaid’s Donna Cushing, a Caerphilly Borough Councillor, said: “I have been made aware of misogynistic behaviour within the force, previously.

“It is my intention to investigate any behaviour that falls below par of what we expect of any serving member of civilian staff or serving police officers within Gwent police force area. I would work closely with the Chief Constable to ensure all guidelines are adhered to and victims of such behaviour are kept informed.

“Personally I don’t tolerate any discriminatory behaviour in any shape or form. I have experienced it professionally and personally and there would be no place for it in my tenure as PCC if I am successfully elected.”

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Williams of Gwent Police said: “We have made our expectations clear to both officers and staff that we will not tolerate poor behaviour.

“We have put a significant amount of work into making sure colleagues understand and feel able to report any concerns, challenge behaviour and receive support.

“We’ve given a public commitment that we will pursue, investigate, and where appropriate discipline anyone whose behaviour lets down our communities and every dedicated and hardworking member of Gwent Police.”

Labour’s Jane Mudd is also standing for the Police and Crime Commissioner post.