Six officers from Greater Manchester Police disciplined over ‘racist and ableist’ WhatsApp messages | UK News

Six police officers have had misconduct claims proven against them following a watchdog’s investigation into “racist and ableist” messages.

The “abhorrent” messages, which included references to the Islamic festival of Eid, were sent to a WhatsApp chat shared by a group of officers from Greater Manchester Police.

The group chat – named “The Dispensables” – also contained ableist comments about people with autism, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The messages were discovered as part of a separate inquiry into the supply of steroids by one of the group’s members.

IOPC regional director Catherine Bates described the messages as “inexcusable and abhorrent”.

“Messages sent via WhatsApp and on any form of social media cannot be a hiding place for officers with these types of views,” she said.

“Behaviour of this nature seriously undermines public confidence in policing. It is part of our role, and for police forces themselves, to ensure that it is rooted out and those responsible are held to account for their actions.

“The outcome sends a clear message that the use and failure to challenge offensive language is wholly unacceptable.”

Whatsapp logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

As part of the watchdog’s investigation into the messages, gross misconduct claims were proven against one officer, PC Rebekah Kelly, who has been dismissed from the force without notice.

Former PC Ashley Feest and PC Graham Atkinson admitted breaching the standards of behaviour, also at the level of gross misconduct.

A panel ruled that former PC Feest would have been dismissed without notice, had he not already resigned, while PC Atkinson was given a final written warning.

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PC Kelly and PC Feest had also been added to the police barred list, preventing them from serving as police officers, the IOPC said.

The investigation was launched during an inquiry into another officer, PC Aaron Jones, for supplying steroids. It was during that investigation that the messages were found.

PC Jones was sacked in December 2022 after a misconduct hearing found he had offered to supply steroids in January 2019.

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He had already been sentenced to a 12-month community order and 80 hours unpaid work in June 2022 after admitting two counts of offering to supply Class C drugs.

As part of the IOPC’s investigation into the WhatsApp messages, two other officers had misconduct meetings in August 2022.

One officer was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour in relation to authority, respect and courtesy; conduct; equality and diversity; and challenging and reporting improper conduct and was given a written warning.

A sixth officer was found to have failed to challenge or report improper conduct and received management advice.

Sky News has contacted Greater Manchester Police for a comment.