‘Repugnant’ police officers sacked after probe into racist, homophobic WhatsApp group

Greater Manchester Police officers

Former Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers who “revelled” in drug use have been barred from policing for life for sharing derogatory, racist and homophobic texts via WhatsApp.

The three former and serving officers – PC Ashley Feest, PC Graham Atkinson and Aaron Jones – have been called a “complete disgrace” by head of the GMP professional standards branch, detective chief superintendent Mike Allen, after being found to have exchanged offensive texts via a WhatsApp group called “the Dispensables”. 

Aaron Jones served as an officer before resigning in March 2021 after being convicted of offering to supply Class C drugs which led to his dismissal from GMP.

Detective Chief Superintendent Allen said: “The conduct of these officers was a complete disgrace and it is fitting that three members of the WhatsApp group now find themselves barred from policing for life, with one also carrying a criminal conviction for offering to supply drugs.” 

At the time of the incidents, all three officers worked in GMP’s City of Manchester north division. 

Led by an independent legally qualified chair, the panel heard how the chat had been established between the three to exchange offensive messages. 

You may like to watch

The panel found that Jones’ girlfriend, PC Rebekah Kelly, who wasn’t part of the WhatsApp group, had failed to report racists and derogatory texts that Jones had sent to her, Bolton News reported. 

‘Revelling in the misuse of drugs’

PCs Atkinson and Feest accepted their behaviour amounted to gross misconduct but PC Kelly denied the allegations.

Kelly was dismissed without further notice and has been added to the College of Policing’s barred list, while Atkinson has been handed a final written warning. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Allen added: “Whilst messages were sent across personal WhatsApp accounts, given the racist and homophobic content, in addition to other communications revelling in the misuse of drugs, any right to privacy these officers thought they had was ousted by their abhorrent conduct.

“The shameful behaviour of these officers risks undermining the noble work of all in GMP who serve our diverse communities with kindness and this is why I have no hesitation in demonstrating, very publicly, the hard line that will be taken when such repugnant behaviour is detected.

“GMP have given a firm commitment to expelling those whose behaviour risks bringing policing into disrepute and members of the ‘the Dispensables’ WhatsApp group may now recognise that our actions very much match our words given their now dispensed status from policing.”

Met Price found to be institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynist

In March, a report by Baroness Casey, commissioned in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard by serving firearms officer Wayne Couzens, found the Metropolitan Police to be institutionally racist, homophobic and misogynistic.

In 2022, the Met Police were placed in special measures by the police watchdog after a number of scandals revealed “serious or critical shortcomings” in the force. 

This followed the departure of former Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick. Dick stepped down from the role in February after a damning Independent Office for Police Conduct report revealed the extent of the discrimination, misogyny, homophobia and racism that officers at Charing Cross police station were involved in.

Sir Mark Rowley replaced Dick in September 2022 and has since vowed to reform the Met. 

PinkNews has contacted Greater Manchester Police for comment.

Please login or register to comment on this story.