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Wiltshire investigating 'vile' content found on Gwent officer's devices

Chief Constable Pam Kelly promises that action will be taken against any officers found to have breached professional standards by the investigation - 'regardless of rank'.

An independent investigation is under way after "abhorrent" content was discovered on devices belonging to a Gwent Police officer.

Wiltshire Police is managing the investigation on behalf of the Welsh force, after messages found on a tablet and mobile phone prompted allegations of corruption, misogyny, racism and homophobia within Gwent's ranks.

The devices uncovered offensive messages shared on social media between serving and retired officers prior to 2020, which Gwent's Chief Constable Pam Kelly described as "vile".

CC Kelly said: "The content we have been made aware of is abhorrent and any officers identified by the investigation as having breached either professional standards or the criminal threshold will be held accountable.

"The content shared with us paints a picture of a toxic culture which does not represent the majority of our service."

The chief acknowledged that while the force "has not always lived up to the standards those reporting issues to us should expect", it has worked tirelessly over the last three years to improve conduct and professionalism.

One example of this, according to CC Kelly, was the recent dismissal of three high-ranking officers following an incident involving a junior member of police staff at a retirement party in June 2019.

Former Chief Superintendent Marc Budden and Chief Inspector Paul Staniforth were dismissed in September alongside retired Chief Superintendent Mark Warrender, after allegations of gross misconduct were found proven against all three.

They were also placed on the barred list. 

CC Kelly said this disciplinary action "reflects our commitment to pursue and hold accountable those who let us all down".

She stressed that the force has also recognised its previous wrongdoings, referencing abuse allegations made by two probationary officers against a more senior colleague that were not investigated properly.

CC Kelly conceded that the force, which issued a public apology to the victims last year, did not "support them appropriately when they raised concerns in 2017".

The chief said that while the force cannot comment on the ongoing investigation, any officer or staff member found to have breached professional standards will be disciplined "regardless of rank".

Wiltshire Police told Police Oracle that it cannot comment while the investigation is ongoing.

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