Society Magazine

What WAS He Thinking – PCSO Charged with Misconduct in a Public Office

Posted on the 01 October 2011 by Minimumcover @minimumcover

It is well-known in the job that the three biggest risks to your career, the golden rules of survival and, more significantly for some, the biggest threats to your pension are the three P’s

  • Pocket Books,
  • Property
  • Police (wo)men

It is drummed into you from day one that there are certain things that will almost certainly end up in an officer getting their fingers burnt and ending up getting their number one’s out of the cupboard for a one-way chat with the grown-ups. Now I have never seen the training that a PCSO goes through, but I would imagine that there might possibly be something along these lines somewhere within the unofficial package.

A recent IPCC investigation has added an optional 4th and 5th “P” to this list.

  • Police Computers
  • Punters

Police Community Support Officer Peter Mark Bunyan, 38, was employed by the Devon and Cornwall Police during the period between February 2007 and January 2011. During that time he was found to have abused his position in order to have a sexual relationship with three separate women as well as using Police computer systems to access records held on them relating to those same three women. With one of the women he was also found to have engaged in sexualised text messaging whilst on duty.

Bunyan has now been charged with six offences (two in respect of each woman) and will be in court next month.

I would love to hear from anyone out there who can explain to me how anyone can believe that this sort of behaviour is acceptable. I would also love to hear from anyone who can explain to me how, in the modern world of computer technology, this person thought that they could get away with it!

Having done this job for many years, I am fully aware that situations inevitably present themselves from time to time when officers find themselves in contact with people who are vulnerable and who might attempt to instigate a more-than-professional relationship with an officer that helps them or demonstrates a degree of professional attachment, or any number of other circumstances that would never present themselves to an individual in the scope of their normal life experience.

This officer was not young and power-affected, in his late teens and guilty of simply losing his self-control when confronted by opportunities to get a few new girlfriends. This was a 38-year-old man with the benefit of significant life experience who systematically used his job and abused the trust put in him to engage in three relationships with people he encountered in the course of his duties.

What other issues there were that may have influenced his behaviour I do not know. I cannot say that the officer actively sought out the women he had relationships with. I cannot say what degree of information was obtained by him from Police computer systems, or for what purpose.

What I can say is that this should NEVER have happened and is, no doubt, due to become another very public warning to those of us in Police Officer and Community Support roles that we should not allow ourselves to become vulnerable to temptation.

The implications of this sort of behaviour, for us as individuals, for the Police forces we work for and the potential negative impact on the trust placed in us by the public are huge. Let’s hope this is the last story of this kind that we see for a while.

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