Police officer avoids sacking for disgusting comments about women and lesbians

Police force in Chesterfield

A Derbyshire police sergeant has avoided sacking for inappropriate comments about women and lesbians

Sergeant Darran Clarke, a police officer for 20 years, was demoted after being accused of making comments about there being “too many women in the office”. 

A misconduct hearing, which was held between 6 and 10 December, saw a panel deciding that Clarke’s behaviour was serious enough to be classed as gross misconduct.

The panel, chaired by Jayne Salt, decided to impose a reduction in rank on Clarke, making him a constable again.

Colleagues complained about the sergeant’s conduct after he was heard allegedly saying: “There are too many women in the office,” and: “Why do I have to work in an office full of lesbians?”

The police sergeant was also accused of tapping a colleague on her chest and saying “good girl” while having a conversation about work. Though the alleged touch was “non-sexual”, the colleague has said that it felt “patronising”. 

Clarke denied touching the female officer on the chest and denied making the comment about lesbians, saying “I would never use the word ‘lesbian’. I thought it (the word lesbian) was offensive”.

Defending himself, Clarke said he felt a lack of male officers impacted on his team’s success as he believed female officers performed fewer “stop-searches”.

Salt said the panel determined the sergeant had made the alleged remarks, and that he should have recognised his behaviour was inappropriate.

She added that while Clarke did not have racist, misogynistic or homophobic views, she felt that the sergeant was “speaking before thinking”.

Salt said the panel had taken into account the fact that the complainants themselves said that they did not want Clarke to lose his job. 

“The panel concluded that a reduction in rank is the appropriate and proportional outcome,” she said.

In a statement, Deputy Chief Constable Kate Meynell for the Derbyshire Police said: “The conduct shown by this officer is disappointing and falls well below the standards we expect of our staff.

“The language used when speaking to his colleagues was wholly inappropriate. We are an inclusive organisation, where officers and staff respect and support one another.

“As a force we take a strong position around this sort of language and behaviour and are keenly aware of the impact that it has on colleagues, as well as the trust and confidence of the public.”

The hearing comes after an officer was sacked in September after making a number of homophobic and racist Facebook posts. 

Lee Scott, of the Northumbria Police force, was fired after facing six allegations of gross misconduct over Facebook comments concerning George Floyd and rainbow lanyards. 

It was found that Scott mocked a chief constable who took the knee at a Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of Floyd’s death in May 2020. He was also accused of making homophobic remarks about a senior officer for wearing a rainbow lanyard in support of LGBT+ rights. 

“There is no place for hate in our region and certainly not in our police force,” Northumbria’s police and crime commissioner Kim McGuinness said at the time. 

“This officer has let his force, his colleagues and importantly, the communities he was meant to be serving down.”