Racist, sexist, homophobic language became ‘the norm’ in Hampshire Police’s organised crime unit, tribunal hears

Police tape

A tribunal has heard that racist, sexist and homophobic language had become “the norm” in the Hampshire Police Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).

Between March and April, 2018, secret recording equipment was set up in the unit, based in Basingstoke, after complaints by other members of staff.

At a police misconduct hearing in October, 2020, it was revealed that six Hampshire Police officers had been recorded using racist, transphobic and homophobic slurs.

The officers allegedly mocked LGBT+ people as “queers” and “horrible tranny faggots”, as well joking about migrants drowning, referring to a Black colleague as a “mixed breed” of dog with “forged Nigerian documents”, and called women as “sluts” and “whores”.

One officer was reportedly recorded joking about a Black colleague being “brought to England in a crate and deposited at London Zoo”.

At a hearing on Monday (14 December), a tribunal was told that these racist, sexist and homophobic comments had become “the norm” at the Hampshire Police SOCU, according to ITV.

Prosecuting, Jason Beer QC said: “Even though we have recordings for 24 days, we have enough racism and sexism to last a lifetime.

“It is strongly suggestive of the culture in this unit and that officers habitually behaved in this manner.”

The comments were not only caught on tape, but were also found to have been made by email and in WhatsApp messages.

The group of six men, including two senior officers within the unit, are accused of breaching professional standards. All six admit misconduct, but deny that they are guilty of gross misconduct.

Senior officers detective inspector Tim Ireson and detective sergeant Gregory Wilcox have been accused of allowing toxic behaviour to become embedded among staff at the unit, and of failing to lead by example.

The four other officers accused are detective sergeant Oliver Lage, former PC Craig Bannerman, PC James Oldfield and trainee detective sargeant Andrew Ferguson.

A decision is expected to be made by a tribunal panel Friday, while the six officers will find out in January if they face sanctions.