Bristol journalists win right to name sacked police officer

A police force performed a U-turn on its decision not to name a police officer sacked for gross misconduct after protests from local journalists.

Avon and Somerset Police decided to grant anonymity to the police officer, despite being sacked without notice for gross misconduct.

BristolLive challenged the decision, which had been reported by Bristol local democracy reporter Adam Postans, who is employed by BristolLive.

After BristolLive highlighted the decision to keep the sacked police officer’s name a secret, Avon and Somerset chief constable Sarah Crew took legal advice and agreed to lift the naming ban she had previously imposed.

PC Kevin Curd was dismissed following a police misconduct hearing for…

A police statement issued after the U-turn said: “An accelerated misconduct hearing was held on Friday, November 4, in which a serving officer was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct and added to a national barred list, preventing him from working in policing or other law enforcement agencies again. Before the hearing, Chief Constable Sarah Crew decided it should be held in public, for the reasons of openness and transparency.

“A misconduct notice was issued on the Avon & Somerset Police website, naming the officer as PC Kevin Curd. When the hearing started, it became clear that details of the allegations would identify and adversely impact on vulnerable people not named in the original hearing notice, including juveniles, and the Chief Constable imposed a restricted reporting order as a proportionate response to prevent this from happening.

“In a subsequent public statement giving details of the hearing outcome, the officer’s name was withheld, resulting in a media outlet challenging this decision. The Chief Constable has listened to the concerns raised and has sought further legal advice.

“The advice has determined that while further details of the allegations cannot be released to protect the identity of third parties, this does not mean the officer had to be anonymised.”

The statement said allegations of gross misconduct against PC Curd were proven and he was sacked without notice. “The hearing was told that while off-duty, PC Curd had looked up details of two call logs on police systems in March of this year, without having a legitimate reason to do so,” it said.

“The contents of one of the call logs was then disclosed to a third party outside of the force without a policing purpose.” The proven allegations relate to the inappropriate accessing and disclosing of data held on police systems, and there is no suggestion the officer engaged in any form of discriminatory behaviour or abuse.”

The about-turn followed a powerful editorial by BristolLive, which led both the website and the Bristol Post newspaper.

It read: “We would like to tell you about an Avon & Somerset police officer who committed gross misconduct so serious he was sacked on the spot. It is clearly in the public interest to do so.

“We can’t because we are not allowed to name him.

“We understand the reason given for the constabulary’s top officer issuing the reporting restriction was to protect the identity of people involved who had not been named in the original misconduct notice, including juveniles.

But not only would we never have any intention of naming the children involved, we abide by our codes of practice, under the media industry watchdog IPSO Editors’ Code of Practice, not to do so.

“Only in rare and exceptional circumstances should a police officer be granted anonymity.

“It is in the clear public interest for the public to know who they are, and in the case of misconduct hearings, ensures that public confidence in the police service is maintained.

“The underlying principle is that not only must justice be done, it must be seen to be done.”

Speaking after the police’s change of heart, BristolLive editor Pete Gavan said: “This is the right decision by the chief constable. The order should never have been granted and we knew we had to take a stand.

“This was a team effort from my LDR Adam Postans with support from our legal team and goes to show the difference good journalism can make.”

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store