Crawley police officer sacked after ‘pressurising’ victim of alleged sex assault

Sussex Police. Pic Steve Robards
Sussex Police. Pic Steve Robards

A police officer pressurised a victim of an alleged sexual assault into saying the incident never took place, Sussex Police has said after a misconduct hearing.

PC Steven Morris - number CM070 - who was based with the investigations team at Crawley, has been dismissed from the force after being found guilty of gross misconduct, a police spokesman said.

Morris, aged 48, who served as a police officer for 18 years, appeared at a public gross misconduct hearing at Sackville House in Lewes following allegations he failed in his duties and responsibilities after an incident in Horsham.

Sussex Police has released the officer’s identity number as CM070 after it said there were three officers of the same name in the force, another of whom is also based at Crawley.

Police said the panel heard how Morris ‘improperly pressurised’ a potential victim of a sexual assault into signing his pocket note book stating that no assault had taken place.

At the hearing, on March 4, a panel - which was independently chaired - agreed that the allegations did amount to gross misconduct and Morris was dismissed without notice.

Detective Superintendent Steve Boniface, head of Sussex Police’s Professional Standards Department, said: “We expect the highest possible standards of our officers and staff and we take any report of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously.

“PC Morris’s behaviour was a violation of the trust that the public put in the police to serve and protect them. He failed the victim of this crime and let down his colleagues who carry out an enormous amount of good work with victims of serious offences every day. He let down Sussex Police and the people of Sussex.”

Detective Chief Inspector David Springett from Sussex Police Public Protection Unit said: “Over the past four years, a lot of work has gone into the training and development of staff and we now have specialist Safeguarding Investigation Units (SIUs), which give our investigators in-depth knowledge and experience of investigating sexual offence cases, stalking and domestic abuse.

“Our response has been further enhanced within the last year by the introduction of our Sexual Offence Investigation Trained (SOIT) team, the first such unit in the country to include police staff and newcomers to the force as well as police officers. They act as a single point of contact for victims and are on hand to support victims throughout a criminal investigation from initial reporting right through to court proceedings and beyond.

“We take reports of crime seriously and confidentially and I would urge anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence, no matter when it happened, to report it to us.