West Yorkshire cop found guilty of imitating Indian woman’s accent
Patrick Harrison accepted that his behaviour was “unacceptable and inexcusable” and that it breached the standards of professional conduct
A file photo of police in London. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A disciplinary tribunal has found a police officer from northern England guilty of gross misconduct for imitating the Indian accent of a woman reporting a hate crime to the West Yorkshire Police call centre.
Patrick Harrison was found guilty following a misconduct hearing last month, and the panel concluded that he would have been dismissed had he not already resigned as a Police Constable (PC) from West Yorkshire Police.
The incident, which occurred in November last year, involved a phone call with a female complainant – named only as “SA” – who overheard the police constable mimicking her and reported it to an anti-racism helpline.
“On 29.11.2022, former police constable Harrison was on duty, working in the Force Call Centre, when he made a call to SA, a female member of the public who had reported a hate-related assault,” reads the judgment.
“The former officer asked SA for more details in relation to why she believed that it was a hate crime. Having had the conversation, the former Officer failed to clear the line and repeated back some of the phrases SA had used, mimicking her accent whilst doing so. SA heard these comments and made a report to Tell MAMA it said.
Harrison accepted that his behaviour was “unacceptable and inexcusable” and that it breached the standards of professional conduct.
During the course of the misconduct hearing, it also emerged that he acted to conceal his wrongdoing and did not report what he had done at the time.
He was found to have called SA back shortly after the first call from a different phone, which was not recorded. The panel felt it was likely he did so in order to see whether SA had heard what he had said.
Their judgment goes on to state: “The former officer’s actions caused SA psychological distress and resulted in her withdrawing her direct cooperation with the police, such was her loss of trust and confidence in the police.”
“If the former officer’s actions become known more widely, there will be significant reputational damage to the police service as a whole. Racism and Islamophobia within the police are issues of significant national concern. The actions of the former officer have caused or may cause harm to the wider community,” it said.
The actions of the former officer were deemed discriminatory to SA on the basis of her race, religion, or belief.
The panel found that this factor was aggravated by the fact that it took place in the context that she was reporting a hate crime.
“The panel accepts that this was a single, impulsive incident which was of limited duration and extent… We have carefully considered whether the facts as we have found them to amount to gross misconduct. We are satisfied that they do amount to gross misconduct,” the tribunal concluded.
It also acknowledged the officer’s prior “unblemished record” during 15 years of service with the police and that he has suffered a “significant degree of shame, regret and remorse for his actions and the consequences.”