Special sacked for 94mph drive, use of term 'pikey rodders' and snooping into police computers
- Credit: Cambs Police
Special PC sacked for 94mph driving, snooping into police computers and use of term ‘pikey rodders’
A 29-year-old special constable – originally from March but now living in St Neots – has been sacked for gross misconduct.
Ryan Berridge admitted multiple breaches of policing rules for accessing police computers whilst not on duty.
He also admitted driving a police car at 94mph with blue lights blazing when not authorised to do so.
“This is not in your driving grade,” chief constable Nick Dean pointed out in releasing an outcome of the disciplinary hearing.
Berridge also admitted using the term ‘pikey rodders’ when referring to a member of the public during a conversation on the rural policing WhatsApp group.
He then followed this up by adding the comment ‘come to think of it, I need a new drive laying’.
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Berridge joined the specials more than four years ago and within months had been given a special commendation for his assistance at a police investigation into stabbing.
The commendation also covered his actions preventing a man from possibly committing suicide.
That commendation was considered by the chief constable but Mr Dean felt the charges against Berridge merited immediate dismissal.
Mr Dean told him: “The conduct that you displayed falls way short of these standards as set out on the standards of professional behaviour.”
The chief constable said in dismissing Berridge, he had taken into account “aggravating and mitigating factors presented” and the “personal circumstances” outlined by a police federation rep.
He also took into account “the extensive testaments of good character from colleagues and associates”.
But Mr Dean said any sanction “must have due regard to maintaining public confidence and upholding the reputation of the police service.
“This case centres on the misuse of computer systems and the access to personal data for a non-policing purpose.”
It also involved “driving a police vehicle outside of your driving grade and use of discriminatory language”.
Mr Dean said Berridge had been warned informally about use of police vehicles.
And he accepted that Berridge’s desire to help colleagues “can cloud judgement”.
But the lapse was not momentary.
“You have driven beyond the realms of your training” he said. And in doing so had endangered colleagues, and the public by “the excessive manager of driving” in a marked police car.
The chief constable also said the misuse of force computer systems was far from a one-off incident.
" Unauthorised access was sustained over a few months and indeed on 20 separate dates,” he said.
Mr Dean said the data contained personal information of a sensitive nature relating to a number of individuals and policing incidents “for which there was no policing purpose to access whilst off duty”.
And he added: “Continual breaches of personal privacy were conducted.”
He told Berridge: “Each breach was not a spontaneous act; it was done in my view out of curiosity and for no legitimate policing purpose other than to see what was going on.”
Finally, he felt that “discriminatory language used in a WhatsApp message was inappropriate”.
Although Berridge might have thought it humour, “it does not minimise the culpability of your actions; unconsciously discriminate, is serious and can have a significant impact on public confidence in policing”.
The chief constable told Berridge “the harm caused by your actions and behaviour are significant.
“Misuse of police computer systems and information is a particular concern for the police service; this makes this case all the more serious; it has been subject of repeated misconduct procedures.
“The acknowledgement from you that that what you did was wrong and your openness in interview and throughout the investigation is recognised and to your credit,” said the constable.
“But this extends beyond being ‘silly’ as you describe it.”
Recognising that Berridge had offered “a substantial amount to the Special Constabulary and indeed through your charity work”, dismissal without notice was his only course of action.
In his paid for work, Berridge has managed a One-Stop shop in March, worked behind the bar at a pub, and for an electrical firm.
Latterly he has been a security guard.