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Crawley police officer dismissed after persuading sexual assault victim to deny claim

A police officer who avoided investigating a sexual assault by persuading the victim to say that the incident did not take place has been dismissed.

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PC Steven Morris (CM070), 48, who was based with the investigations team at Crawley, appeared before a public gross misconduct hearing at Sackville House in Lewes on March 4 to answer allegations that he had failed in his duties and responsibilities as a result of the incident reported in Horsham.

The panel heard how PC Morris, who had served for 18 years, improperly pressurised a potential victim of a sexual assault into signing his pocket note book stating that no assault had taken place. Once the failing came to light, the offence was properly investigated.

Having considered the evidence, the panel, which was independently chaired, agreed that the allegations did amount to gross misconduct and PC Morris was dismissed without notice.

Detective Superintendent Steve Boniface, head of Sussex Police’s Professional Standards Department, said:

“We expect the highest possible standards of our officers and staff and we take any report of inappropriate behaviour extremely seriously.

“PC Morris’s behaviour was a violation of the trust that the public put in the police to serve and protect them. He failed the victim of this crime and let down his colleagues who carry out an enormous amount of good work with victims of serious offences every day. He let down Sussex Police and the people of Sussex.”

Detective Chief Inspector David Springett from Sussex Police Public Protection Unit added:

“Over the past four years, a lot of work has gone into the training and development of staff and we now have specialist Safeguarding Investigation Units (SIUs), which give our investigators in-depth knowledge and experience of investigating sexual offence cases, stalking and domestic abuse.

“Our response has been further enhanced within the last year by the introduction of our Sexual Offence Investigation Trained (SOIT) team, the first such unit in the country to include police staff and newcomers to the force as well as police officers. They act as a single point of contact for victims and are on hand to support victims throughout a criminal investigation from initial reporting right through to court proceedings and beyond.

“We take reports of crime seriously and confidentially and I would urge anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence, no matter when it happened, to report it to us.”

Education

Crawley pupils told they can either accept, use mock grades or take exam when results are announced this week

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West Sussex pupils will receive their A/AS Level and GCSE grades over the next week in very different circumstances this year.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic denied students the chance to sit any of their final exams. They will instead be given calculated grades based on an assessment of a range of their work.

The Department for Education yesterday announced that pupils will be given the option to accept their calculated grade, appeal to receive their mock results if higher, or sit an optional autumn written exam.

Many will be celebrating getting what they need to further their education or training and others will be getting ready to enter employment. As ever there will be those who didn’t get the grades needed or are unsure about what to do next – and for these young people help is available to them from the careers advice service run by West Sussex County Council.

Tania Corn is one of the council’s careers advisors on hand to offer guidance.

Tania said:

“If you receive your results and they’re not what you were expecting or you’re unsure what to do next, it can all feel a bit scary or overwhelming. It’s good to talk things through to see what direction to go in.

“Please do call or email the careers team. You’ll be able to register and receive one-to-one support from one of our advisors. They’ll be able to discuss your situation and help you consider your options.”

A/AS Level results day takes place on 13 August 2020 with GSCE results day a week later on 20 August.

The DfE has announced that it won’t publish results from English schools as normal later this year, including results from primary schools, and confirmed that 2020 grades won’t count in measuring a school’s performance.

Nigel Jupp, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said:

“The pandemic has been tough on so many and for young people aged 16 to 18, it has come at a crucial time in their education.

“Much hard work will have gone into preparing to sit final exams, so I thank these young people for being so adaptable, and their schools for supporting them so well. They have even been denied the tradition of going into school to collect results and say goodbye to teachers and classmates.

“These young people have shown remarkable resilience which will stand them in good stead for the future. I cannot thank them, and their teachers enough for all their hard work and flexibility during what has been such a disruptive time.

“I hope that those in need of some guidance get in touch with our careers advisors, who are there to help them.”

You can contact the careers team by calling 0330 222 2700 or email careersadvice@westsussex.gov.uk

More information is available on our BacktoSchool webpages

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