A former Wiltshire Police member of staff has been given a custodial sentence for misconduct in public office following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
In January, Rachel Beale, 53, pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier court hearing.
At Bristol Crown Court today (Wednesday), she was sentenced by a judge to six months’ imprisonment.
The IOPC’s investigation found evidence that Beale entered into an inappropriate, intimate relationship with a man she was responsible for supervising as part of her role as an offender manager within the police force’s Management of Sexual and Violent Offenders Unit.
The investigation also found evidence that she used her position as a key worker during the Coronavirus pandemic to make hotel bookings that were not for a law enforcement purposes.
The misconduct occurred between February and September 2020 and the IOPC investigated a subsequent conduct referral from Wiltshire Police in September 2020.
During the investigation, the IOPC interviewed Beale under criminal caution, examined her mobile phones and devices and obtained statements from several witnesses.
At the end of the investigation, investigators referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, which authorised the charge.
Beale has since resigned from Wiltshire Police.
The force held a disciplinary hearing earlier this month and decided that she would have been dismissed without notice if still serving.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said:
“It goes without saying that we expect the highest levels of conduct from all our officers, staff and volunteers, something which is even more important when an employee is directly involved in supervising offenders within our community.
“Rachel Beale betrayed the trust of the public, and betrayed the trust of her colleagues, when she blatantly abused her position to commit this crime.
“The outcome of this investigation and today’s sentence shows that there is no place in policing for someone who behaves in this way.
“She was immediately suspended from duties when this matter was brought to our attention, and, once she had pleaded guilty in court we held an internal misconduct hearing, which resulted in her being dismissed from the force.
“This misconduct outcome protects the public by ensuring she is placed on the national barred list and cannot seek further work at any other police forces.”
Offender managers in Sexual & Violent Offender Units are tasked with – amongst other things – ensuring that criminals adhere to any licence requirements often placed on them when they are released from prison.
DCC Mills added: “I want our communities across Swindon and Wiltshire to have the utmost confidence in their police force, and, although cases like this highlight the disappointing and unacceptable minority, I hope the public can see that we are committed to rooting out any kind of misconduct and taking the appropriate action.
“If any member of the public has concerns relating to the professionalism of any officer or staff member, we would urge them to contact us in confidence so we can address the concerns raised.”
IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said:
“Following our investigation, Rachel Beale admitted that she entered into an intimate relationship over a period of time with a man she was meant to be supervising professionally.
“Despite knowing there was an imbalance of power she pursued the relationship.
“She also admitted misusing her police identification to book hotel rooms while Covid restrictions were in place and without policing purpose and treating him more favourably than others she was managing.
“She abused her position and has now been sentenced by a criminal court for her actions, which carried significant potential to undermine public confidence in Wiltshire Police.
“The public should be reassured that she can no longer hold a role in policing.”
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