I have reviewed the facts of this case and my findings in respect of SC Demeter’s conduct are as follows:
On the 21st October 2020, SC Demeter held a party at his home address, this started at approximately 23:00 and continued throughout the evening until the following day. During this a neighbour with a young family were unable to sleep and did attend the address to request the music was turned down. The neighbour was told to “pipe down” as they just wanted to have fun. After this the neighbour and her partner overheard the people at the party talking about sorting them out and Police were called but did not attend.
In the morning celebrations were heard from the address for keeping the neighbours up all night. Threatening and abusive language was used about the neighbours.
SC Demeter was seen outside the neighbour’s property and he was sticking his two fingers up and counting down the time till 0700hrs – the time her child needs to get up and get ready for school. This incident had a significant effect on the neighbour’s wellbeing. I accept that part of this allegation is denied at today’s hearing.
As a result of the above allegations, SC Demeter was subsequently interviewed (voluntarily) by PC 4605 Jack Hawkins on 27th March 2021. SC Demeter was given a criminal caution for pursuing a course of conduct which amounted to harassment under Section 2(1) and Section 2(2) of the Harassment Act 1997. He was legally represented.
It is alleged that his conduct as outlined has breached the standards of professional behaviour, namely Discreditable conduct. The police service expects all its officers and staff to act in manner that does not bring discredit to the service or harm its reputation. The public expect that these standards are upheld. The conduct that he has displayed falls way short of these standards as set out on the standards of professional behaviour.
I have considered this case in full the evidence and representations made and by his own admittance that the conduct did amount to gross misconduct. As such I find that SC Demeter’s conduct amounts to gross misconduct and is serious enough to warrant dismissal as an outcome option.
With regards to the outcome of this case:
I have considered all the facts of this case, both from the investigators report and the representations made during this Hearing. I have also considered the College of Policing Guidance on outcomes in police misconduct proceedings. I have paid particular note to the aggravating and mitigating factors presented. I can assure the panel that I have considered very carefully the circumstances as outlined this morning and SC Demeter’s acceptance in this investigation that his conduct amounted to Gross Misconduct. In referring the College of Policing Guidelines, I am cognisant that any sanction must have due regard to maintaining public confidence and upholding the reputation of the police service.
This case centres on discreditable conduct as a result of a criminal conviction for harassment.
In relation to the culpability for the conduct, the criminal offence was captured in statements, audio recordings and admitted in interview by SC Demeter. Even when the neighbours requested the noise to be reduced rather than taking heed of this SC Demeter and those he was with have further antagonised the situation purposefully to cause further harassment. It is entirely unacceptable for special constables or constables, who are responsible for enforcing the law, to break the law themselves. Within the statement by Mrs Cheetham, there is reference to previous incidents at her neighbour’s address which indicates a course of conduct, ultimately leading to event on the night of 21st October 2020.
Although no physical harm is evident I cannot ignore the impact such behaviour had on Mrs Cheetham’s mental well-being and that of her family. The mental harm caused by the actions and behaviour of SC Demeter are significant to those affected by the harassment and it appears this has been an ongoing issue which has also been reported to the council. Moreover, the neighbours in the area are aware that Ladislav Demeter is a Special Constable therefore escalating the reputational damage. This damage is hard to undo.
The public trust the police service and those working within it, to uphold the highest standards and not commit criminal offences themselves. If that trust is eroded the wider confidence in us as a public service no longer exists.
Although this incident occurred within the West Midlands, the harm to the reputation of Cambridgeshire Constabulary and indeed the wider police service cannot be under estimated when cases such as this come to notice. This aspect of ‘harm’ and the reputational damage caused is significant.
The acknowledgement from SC Demeter that what he did was wrong and his openness to apologise is recognised and to his credit. In addition, the report from Staff Sadler on the update from the Action Plan set from 9th January 2021 is also noted.
I have fully considered the sanctions available to me and what would be proportionate with regards to this specific case. The purpose of the police conduct procedures is clear: maintain public confidence, uphold high standards in policing and deter misconduct, protect the public. Having considered the case before me today, my determination is that the least severe outcome that deals adequately with the issues identified whilst protecting the public interest is that SC Demeter should be dismissed without notice.
Chief Constable Nick Dean
1st September 2021