Ex Derbyshire cops banned from policing over offensive group chat comments

Two former Derbyshire police officers who took part in a highly offensive chat group on topics such as rape and sexual violence as well derogatory remarks about women have been barred from policing.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 8:24 am

A misconduct hearing has also heard how Special Constables Luke Chafer and Joshua Hollis participated in the chat group on Instagram.

An independent panel led by Henry Gordon – Legally Qualified Chair – found all the pair’s alleged breaches of the Policing Standards of Professional Behaviour were proven true and amounted to gross misconduct.

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At the time, both Chafer and Hollis had roles as Special Constables for Derbyshire Police.

The pair have been barred from policing for at least five years due to their “completely unacceptable” behaviour.

At the time both Chafer and Hollis were studying a policing course at the University of Derby and therefore had roles as Special Constables for Derbyshire Police.

These are voluntary roles, but they have the same power as regular officers.

Both officers resigned prior to the misconduct hearing, but it was found Chafer and Hollis would have been dismissed without notice if they had not left their roles.

Chafer and Hollis did not attend the hearing, but the independent panel said it was in the “interests of justice” to proceed.

News of the highly-offensive Instagram messages made local and national headlines last year when the University of Derby announced it suspended six students due to the content of the group chat’s messages.

Six people were participating in the chat group, five of whom were Special Constables – two of which were for Derbyshire police.

On one occasion, it was heard, Chafer allowed a third party (a woman), unknown to the girls mentioned in the group, to see the messages. This was done so Chafer could “wind up” his friends who also participated in the chat.

The woman became so concerned about its content that she decided to publicly screenshot messages and alert people, including the women mentioned via social media. The messages and content were said to have caused “widespread outrage” by the public.

It was also heard how in 2019 a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had sex with Hollis while his colleague Chafer watched from a wardrobe in the same room – unbeknown to the woman.

The off-duty incident was judged proven and that Chafer appeared out of the wardrobe five minutes after the pair had become intimate.

Chafer claimed he left seconds after the pair had got intimate but this was denied by the panel. Hollis had refused the allegation completely which again was dismissed.

Another person was also discovered hiding in the room around half an hour later with the whole experience leaving the woman “embarrassed” and “exposed”.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire police said: “When we were made aware of the unacceptable remarks these two students had made, they were suspended from duty as special constables and an investigation was launched.

“The type of language seen in these comments is completely unacceptable and the organisation utterly condemns it.

“The force, and the public, expects the highest standards of behaviour from our officers, staff and volunteers, whether on or off-duty, on social media or otherwise. Those found not to have upheld our standards will be dealt with robustly.”

A criminal investigation was launched into Chafer and Hollis’ actions but “the threshold was not met for them to be charged”.