Police officer admits wearing 'I love weed' hat was 'puerile'
A police officer wore a woolly hat with the words "I love weed" while on duty and defaced a suspect's CV with the words "kiddie fiddler" and "paedo" during an investigation into allegations of child abuse, a disciplinary hearing has been told.
North Yorkshire Police officer Pc Simon Ryan denies gross misconduct but has apologised, claiming his "puerile" behaviour was intended to "leaven" the mood of colleagues.
The hearing at the police headquarters is the first disciplinary the force has held where the public and press are allowed to attend, watching proceedings via a videolink.
Edward Pleeth, representing the force, said the officer searched a home following an allegation of a sexual offence involving a child in January 2015.
He took a copy of the occupant's CV from a pile and wrote words to the effect of "paedophile", "paedo" and "kiddie fiddler", Mr Pleeth said.
Under "interests", Pc Ryan amended the CV to say "abusing children", the hearing was told.
He then showed the CV to colleagues, did not record it as evidence and later destroyed it in the confidential waste at Northallerton Police Station.
Ten days later he was on duty when he wore a hat with a cannabis logo and the message "I love weed", both in the office and while on patrol.
Mr Pleeth said the officer "demonstates a total lack of insight into the severity and nature of this offending behaviour".
The barrister said Pc Ryan had admitted "tampering with evidence", removing it and then destroying it. That amounted to theft of the CV, he said.
"The public are rightly entitled to have complete confidence and faith in the honesty and integrity of officers allowed into their private space," he said.
With regards to the other incident, Mr Pleeth said: "The wearing of the hat, even as a joke, was entirely inappropriate as Pc Ryan accepts."
Guy Ladenburg, for the officer, said defacing the CV was "a very poor practical joke" in bad taste.
But the document had no evidential or financial value, he said.
He said it was "puerile behaviour, expected to be seen more in the schoolroom than in the context of a police search".
The hat had been given to him by his 26-year-old stepson, Mr Ladenburg said, and when he wore it, he was not seen by any member of the public and was in the dark.
He added: "Pc Ryan offers a wholly unconditional apology to his colleagues, to North Yorkshire Police force and to the wider members of the public for allowing his sense of humour to dominate the way he behaved.
"He recognises, of course, it was inappropriate."
The incident with the CV only came to light seven or eight months after it happened, the barrister said.
The independently-chaired panel adjourned to consider the gross misconduct allegation.