PC Christopher Tierney, aged 35, was dismissed without notice at a Lancashire Constabulary professional misconduct hearing in Ormskirk. The hearing was not a criminal case.
PC Tierney, a traffic officer in recent years, sent racist, abusive and other inappropriate messages to one female officer in particular who he had a ‘toxic’ relationship with, the hearing was told. Content included racist ethnic, religious and terrorist stereotypes, emojis and written phrases.
In other incidents, he behaved inappropriately to eight other female Lancashire officers, by sexual or emotional behaviour or messages. They were junior, younger officers and PC Tierney abused the power imbalance between him and them in pursuing relationships, the hearing ruled. The nine female officers were known anonymously as PCs A, B, C, D, E etc at the hearing.
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PC Tierney often contacted each women on Facebook or WhatsApp, typically asking them to meet him for a coffee at McDonald’s. He described one officer as ‘hot’ and another as the ‘hottest girl on the team’. He kissed some of them and started or attempted to start relationships with some, creating friction at work
He used a Lancashire Police internal telephone directory to get individual female officer’s contact details and breached other police working procedures too.
The police misconduct hearing began last Wednesday when the details of messages and other evidence against PC Tierney were discussed, as previously reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
PC Tierney accepted the basic facts of evidence of the case. On Friday, he gave his mitigation and reflected further on his behaviour.
He first thanked the panel for hearing the proceedings ‘in difficult circumstances’ . He then outlined his record as a police officer and some positive character references from other officers.
He joined the police in 2007 and said: “I hope this explains the type of officer I am. I have a solid work ethic and dedication to Lancashire Police. I have 15 years’ service as a ‘bobby’ and two years previously as a special constable.
“My interactions with the public have all been very positive. As a traffic officer. I have dealt with tens of thousands of people over the years. Nobody has ever complained about my behaviour. I saved one man who had been stabbed in the throat during a frenzied attack. I helped an elderly women who went missing and was in difficult situation.
“My sickness record is impeccable. However, I have been off work for 23 out of 26 months during this investigation. This has created financial worries with loss of pay and health issues. I have never had mental health issues in the past but have been prescribed anti-depressants during this investigation and been admitted to hospital for stress issues.”
He also spoke about his feelings towards PC H, with whom he had a relationship for some time but later ended. PCH H is of mixed-heritage and was subject to racist, abusive, coercive and emotional abuse through social media or text messages, the panel said.
On Friday, PC Tierney said: “I hold no ill-will towards PC H. If she needed help with something now, I would offer to help.”
On Wednesday , PC Tierney suggested police officers’ behaviour and language between themselves, such as in social media or text messages, was different to the standards between the police and the public. He alleged some of the messages between him and PC H were reciprocal, almost like name-calling, with phrases from her directed at him such as ‘white boy’ and references to the Klu Klux Klan, KKK and Adolf Hitler. However, this was dismissed by the panel. PC H was not charged with any misconduct and was not at the hearing.
On Friday, PC Tierney spoke again about his messages.
He said: “I am sorry about the messages. When I read them now, it feels like these were written by someone else. I cannot understand why I did that. I also understand that Lancashire Police has to uphold public confidence.”
Summing-up, Matthew Holdcroft, a lawyer presenting the Lancashire Police case against PC Tierney, said: “This is an officer who must be dismissed. The public can have no confidence in him. The fact he wears a uniform must be an embarrassment. His behaviour can only be described as predatory. There is almost no mitigation. The public would be appalled if this officer was ever allowed to go on duty again.”
The hearing chairman, Karimulla Akbar Khan, again said PC Tierney’s allegations about PC H were not proven.
He said: “You had the opportunity to call PC H to this hearing as a witness but chose not to. Instead, you have made wild and unfounded allegations about PC H in a last-ditch attempt to blame others for his conduct.”
The chairman said PC Tierney had breached all five categories of police standards covering issues including equality and diversity, orders and instructions, duties and responsibilities and discreditable behaviour.
He said: “The officer’s conduct will undoubtedly damage the reputation of Lancashire Police with the pubic, but especially with ethnic communities and especially women of Islamic faith, women and girls.
“The officer targeted women officers, took deliberate predatory steps and concealed wrong-doings. His actions effected multiple victims. His conduct was a significant deviation from police standards, especially amid concerns about racism and treatment of vulnerable communities including women and girls.
“In mitigation, the officer made early admissions of breaches and we did not need the women to attend this hearing to be cross-examined.
“The panel notes the officer’s two commendations and a further nomination for a commendation, and testimonials portraying you as a committed, hard-working officer. One said you were committed to ‘locking-up the bad guys.’ These testimonies show a highly-competent operational officer which is in contrast to your personal behaviour linked to these breaches.”
The chairman said the public would be rightly concerned that PC Tierney had behaved in a ‘discriminatory and predatory’ manner. He had been an officer for eight years when his breaches began, attempting to initiate sexual and emotional relationships with junior female colleagues.
Regarding the risk of re offending or repeat behaviour, PC Tierney had show little contrition to PC H and had tried to use the misconduct hearing to blame PC H. The public would have no confidence that PC Tierney would not repeat his behaviour, the chairman added.
Giving the formal dismissal for gross misconduct, the chairman said: “The officer’s behaviour has been deplorable and disgraceful. There can be no place in the police for people like him. Dismissal without notice is the only appropriate outcome for this case. That is the decision of the panel.”