A former Lincolnshire Police officer has today been found not guilty of rape.
Fraser McDowall, 24, was accused of raping a woman in Lincoln in October last year, while he was off duty. He was subsequently arrested and, in February this year, was charged with one count of rape. He pleaded not guilty and today, after a four day trial at Nottingham Crown Court, was found not guilty by a jury.
Fraser McDowall, 24, is no longer a member of Lincolnshire Police after it was found that he had committed gross misconduct.
This misconduct investigation was separate to the allegation of rape made against McDowall but was discovered as part of that criminal investigation when his mobile phone was seized and examined by investigating officers.
They discovered a WhatsApp chat on his phone that contained inappropriate messages and made Lincolnshire Police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) aware of its content. It was found that conversations between McDowall and four other male colleagues contained wholly inappropriate messages. The group made grossly discourteous remarks, mostly about colleagues, but also about the public. The tone of the chat was generally disrespectful, unkind and indecent.
The conduct was assessed as gross misconduct and all five officers were served papers in relation to this. They are:
PC Fraser McDowall, 24, a probationary police officer.
PC Joshua Porter, 28, a probationary officer.
PC Richard Hughes, aged 39.
PC Craig Barratt, aged 40.
PC John Feeney, aged 29.
All the officers were based at Lincoln.
As a result of the misconduct hearing all the officers were found to have breached the following standards of professional behaviour:
Authority, Respect and Courtesy
Equality and Diversity
Challenging and Reporting Improper Conduct
Honesty and Integrity.
The breaches amounted to gross misconduct.
As a result, the Chair of the Accelerated Misconduct Hearing, Chief Constable Chris Haward, dismissed Craig Barratt and Richard Hughes with immediate effect. Fraser McDowall, Joshua Porter and John Feeney had all resigned before the hearing but would have been dismissed by Mr Haward if they had not left the organisation beforehand.
Speaking today, Mr Haward said: “The behaviour of this group of individuals was abhorrent and completely unacceptable. We are all here to serve with respect and impartiality, and to treat colleagues in the way they have, not to mention the language they used about members of the public, is something that will not be tolerated at Lincolnshire Police. It simply does not belong here.
“Across the force we have been working hard, and continue to work extremely hard, to improve our collective response to any behaviour of this kind. That includes promoting a culture where speaking out is not only supported but actively encouraged, and where action to tackle any wrongdoing is taken swiftly and effectively. As Chief Constable here, I’m very clear about the fact that anyone who cannot show mutual respect and understanding of others and who behaves in this way will soon find themselves removed from the organisation.
“I do want to make clear that the actions of these five individuals are not representative of the whole of our force. The majority of people working for Lincolnshire Police are doing so because of a keen drive to want to help, and they do that with impartiality and passion every day, doing their best to deliver a high standard of policing to communities in Lincolnshire, and they will continue to do so.”