July 2018

Police officer dismissed after sending ‘sexual’ Snapchat messages to girl in care home

A West Yorkshire Police officer has been dismissed without notice after sending ‘inappropriate’ Snapchat messages to a vulnerable schoolgirl.

PC Ian Bell was sacked following a two-day misconduct hearing in Wakefield, which began on Monday, July 30.

He had sent a number of ‘inappropriate and unprofessional’ messages to a 14-year-old girl in July 2017, the day after he met her at a children’s home.

Bell, 46, admitted sending the messages while off-duty. They include one which said ‘You like sex?’ and another which read ‘Please delete everything’.

The girl was living in a children’s home and married man PC Bell had been investigating reports that another young resident had gone missing, a two-day misconduct hearing in Wakefield was told.

He visited the home on July 19 last year and had a conversation with the girl, who cannot be named.

In the early hours of the next day, he began sending her messages via the social media application Snapchat which had “no legitimate policing purpose”

At first, the girl told the children’s home staff she thought she had a “Snapchat stalker” and did not know who was sending the messages, the hearing was told.

Claire Watson said that at about 1am the girl then asked a member of staff: “If it was a police officer who sent the messages, what would happen if he could come and find me?”

She said: “The messages included references to seeing [the girl] in a towel, a question about whether she was taking drugs at parties and whether she likes sex.”

Claire Watson, who led the case against PC Bell, told the panel the seriousness of the officer’s offences means ‘dismissal is the only realistic option available’.

The chair of the misconduct panel also said the girl has told police that the Snapchat messages ‘f***** her head up’ and the messages about sex ‘made her feel sick’.

He also pointed out that when a member of staff at the care home saw the messages she felt ‘totally shocked’ and could not believe they had been sent by a police officer.

Bell had served as a police officer for more than 20 years.