Peterborough police officers do not face prosecution over Whatsapp comments about black actor

Three Peterborough police officers will not be prosecuted following complaints about allegedly racist comments in a Whatsapp conversation.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 10:34 am
Police

Complaints were made to Cambridgeshire police last year regarding allegedly racist remarks were exchanged on a WhatsApp group under an image of the British actor and writer Kayode Ewumi.

In the exchange on the social media app one of the officers posted a meme of Ewumi, 26, which went viral in 2017 . The image shows Ewumi as his character Reece Simpson, aka Roll Safe, in the BBC Three comedy #HoodDocumentary, where he taps his finger to the side of his head having just thought of something.

Underneath the image of Ewumi, a second police officer wrote the word “monkey” then posted an image of a baby monkey hanging on to a tree branch. A third officer wrote “lol” underneath the image of the monkey.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The meme in question

The WhatsApp exchange was between a group of police officers who are members of an internal team in Cambridgeshire constabulary. The team mainly consists of white officers.

But one BAME officer in the team made an official complaint after receiving the messages on his family mobile phone, where it was seen by his three children.

Two officers were placed on restricted duties and a third suspended whilst the investigation took place.

A file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service seeking authorisation to charge the officers in connection with the messages.

But today Cambridgeshire Police confirmed the officers would not face charges.

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: “In early May 2020 a complaint was made about an allegedly racist exchange on WhatsApp between officers in Peterborough. Following this complaint, a referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who directed an investigation should be conducted by our Professional Standards Department.

“Two officers were placed on restricted duties and a third suspended while a thorough investigation took place. A file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service seeking authorisation to charge the officers with malicious communications.

“This file was reviewed by a senior prosecutor and a hate crime specialist who, with the entire history of the group conversation available, concluded that no further action should be taken.

"In light of this decision, gross misconduct proceedings were reduced to misconduct and the suspension was lifted. The behaviour and practice of officers involved in this matter were assessed by the Professional Standards Department as requiring improvement, and work on this is underway.”