BTP fights decision to let cop who harassed lone jogger keep his job

20 October 2021, 11:21

British Transport Police are challenging the decision to let him keep his job
British Transport Police are challenging the decision to let him keep his job . Picture: Alamy
Matthew Thompson

By Matthew Thompson

British Transport Police is to take legal action after one of their own officers, who flashed his warrant card at a woman before sexually harassing her, was not sacked by a misconduct panel.

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It comes as senior police figures have raised concerns with LBC that the current misconduct system makes it too difficult to dismiss rogue officers.

In April last year, serving BTP officer PC Imran Aftab flashed his warrant card at a woman and then made sexually inappropriate comments.

He was off-duty at the time, and harassed the women for her number, telling her she was “too curvy to be Asian”. The woman, who was out jogging, was so disturbed she texted “help me” to a friend.

But in May of this year, a misconduct panel found him guilty of gross misconduct for abusing his position for a sexual purpose and gave PC Aftab a final written warning.

British Transport Police are now challenging that decision.

They told LBC in a statement: “We totally agree this was an appalling incident and as is the case in misconduct hearings, the decision not to dismiss PC Aftab was made by an independent panel, led by a legally qualified chair.

“We don't agree with their decision, and as such took legal advice immediately after the hearing in May before instigating a judicial review to appeal this. This is currently ongoing and we await the outcome.”

Read more: Killer cop to die behind bars: Sarah Everard's parents say the world is a 'safer place'

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The case is a neat illustration of a problem that senior police figures have raised with LBC. That the new system of independent, legally qualified chairs (LQCs) has made it harder to dismiss officers who step out of line.

Previously, Chief Constables led misconduct proceedings. But the new system was introduced in 2015, under Theresa May’s tenure at the Home Office, to bolster public perceptions that the process was independent.

Jane Sawyers, the former Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police, told LBC: “There is some frustration amongst Chief Officers.

"Work carried out by the National Police Chiefs' Council compared the dismissals by panels both prior to independent chairs and with independent chairs over a 12 month period. There were fewer dismissals, and it’s a shame that that need for independence might mean that fewer officers are being sacked, because bad officers should not be in the service.”

The Home Office declined to comment on the concerns.

Read more: Women's safety: What are the current laws around street harassment?

Reclaim These Streets is the grassroots organisation formed in the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder to campaign for women’s safety.

Co-founder Jamie Klingler said: “It sends chills up my spine. The warrant card detail especially in light of what’s just happened to Sarah Everard.

“It blows my mind, the number of people that are on final warnings. In the private sector, if you were to do something like this, you’d be gone.

"And these people are in the public sector, meant to protect and serve us. They are not serving the needs of the women of this country and they should absolutely not have a warrant card.”

It had been understood that Home Office officials were consulting legal experts about making public sexual harassment a crime in its own right.

But in an interview at Conservative Party Conference this month, Boris Johnson appeared to dismiss the idea, saying that there was adequate legislation in place already and the task was to enforce it properly.