Police reveal full details of WhatsApp group misconduct after officer rape trial verdict – The Lincolnite

Five Lincoln-based officers were found to have committed gross misconduct
A former Lincolnshire Police officer has been found not guilty of rape.
Fraser McDowall, 24, was accused of raping a woman in Lincoln in October last year, while he was off duty. He was subsequently arrested and, in February this year, was charged with one count of rape. He pleaded not guilty and today, after a four day trial at Nottingham Crown Court, was found not guilty by a jury.
Fraser McDowall, 24, is no longer a member of Lincolnshire Police after it was found that he had committed gross misconduct.
As previously reported, an accelerated Misconduct Hearing was heard at Lincolnshire Police Headquarters on Monday 11 July 2022.
This hearing was held in private because of the linked criminal trial involving Fraser McDowall. Now that the criminal proceedings have concluded we can release full details from the hearing.
This misconduct investigation was separate to the allegation of rape made against McDowall but was discovered as part of that criminal investigation when his mobile phone was seized and examined by investigating officers.
They discovered a WhatsApp chat on his phone that contained inappropriate messages and made Lincolnshire Police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) aware of its content.
It was found that conversations between McDowall and four other male colleagues contained wholly inappropriate messages.
The group made grossly discourteous remarks, mostly about colleagues, but also about the public. The tone of the chat was generally disrespectful, unkind and indecent.
The conduct was assessed as gross misconduct and all five officers were served papers in relation to this. They are:
All the officers were based at Lincoln.
As a result of the misconduct hearing all the officers were found to have breached the following standards of professional behaviour:
The breaches amounted to gross misconduct.
As a result, the Chair of the Accelerated Misconduct Hearing, Chief Constable Chris Haward, dismissed Craig Barratt and Richard Hughes with immediate effect.
Fraser McDowall, Joshua Porter and John Feeney had all resigned before the hearing but would have been dismissed by Mr Haward if they had not left the organisation beforehand.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Haward said: “The behaviour of this group of individuals was abhorrent and completely unacceptable.
“We are all here to serve with respect and impartiality, and to treat colleagues in the way they have, not to mention the language they used about members of the public, is something that will not be tolerated at Lincolnshire Police. It simply does not belong here.
“Across the force we have been working hard, and continue to work extremely hard, to improve our collective response to any behaviour of this kind.
“That includes promoting a culture where speaking out is not only supported but actively encouraged, and where action to tackle any wrongdoing is taken swiftly and effectively.
“As Chief Constable here, I’m very clear about the fact that anyone who cannot show mutual respect and understanding of others and who behaves in this way will soon find themselves removed from the organisation.
“I do want to make clear that the actions of these five individuals are not representative of the whole of our force.
“The majority of people working for Lincolnshire Police are doing so because of a keen drive to want to help, and they do that with impartiality and passion every day, doing their best to deliver a high standard of policing to communities in Lincolnshire, and they will continue to do so.”
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Bills cap helped, but still £2.1m extra to pay
Lincolnshire County Council.
Lincolnshire County Council will use almost 14% less electricity this year, but will still be charged more than 83% extra, according to a new report.
The authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Board next Thursday will be asked to renew its contract with the ESPO Electricity framework from 2024 onwards.
In their report, officers estimate that between October 2022 and September 2023 they will reduce their electricity consumption across both LCC properties and schools by 6.6million Kilowatt Hours (kWh) compared to 21-22.
However, the costs are estimated to rise by £6.4million.
Officers note that the government’s recently-introduced Energy Bill Relief Scheme will cap the price for six months from October 2022-March 2023.
This is estimated to discount the cost by approx £4.3 million, but that will still leave a rise of £2.1 million,
Over the last 12 months “events such as the conflict in Ukraine and its subsequent impact on European energy supplies have led to a rapid increase in wholesale energy costs” said the report.
“As a result, in recent months domestic and business users have regularly seen costs that are more than 300% higher than they were a year ago.
“Wholesale cost for electricity this winter peaked at circa 80p/kWh with annual fixed prices in excess of 70p/kWh”.
It warns that if countries across Europe fail to reduce demand, combined with a long winter, could lead to rolling blackouts in some areas and increased wholesale costs for winter 2023.
The ESPO framweork is used by more than 100 authorities, academies, housing associations and charities and brings together their requirements to secure favourable pricing.
Under the scheme a conservative amount of electricity is purchased before the start of the supply period meaning councils know the price they will pay for the next 12 months.
Officers will tell councilors that the ESPO framework continues to be the best option as it will “secure best value by providing competitive pricing, while reducing procurement, management and administrative costs”.
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50 sites in the district “at risk”
Mercer Row in Louth. | Image: Daniel Jaines
A Louth councillor called for urgent action after the town centre appeared with several other East Lindsey sites on a list of heritage at serious risk of being lost.
Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register gives an annual snapshot of the critical health of England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
In November, 11 sites across Lincolnshire were added to the register for 2022, including seven in East Lindsey, such as Louth Town Centre, the Church of St Botolph in Skidbrook, and the Windmill on East Street, in Alford.
According to Historic England’s website, there are 50 such sites in East Lindsey.
Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders said councils have taken their eye off the ball.
In a motion before East Lindsey District Council’s full council next Wednesday, she called for an independent review into the effectiveness of planning, historic environment and enforcement systems, as well as a timeline and funding estimates to tackle the issue.
She said: “Louth is meant to be East Lindsey’s foremost market town and, being Louth born and bred, I like to look after it.
“We are having to spend so much time and effort on the Towns Fund deals that I think we have probably taken our eye off the ball.”
District and town Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders.
She said the council needed to get to grips, step up and do something about it.
“For Louth Town Centre to be deemed as at risk is pretty sensational,” she added.
“Unless we do something about it, it runs away with itself and we have got to be diligent and sort it out now before it gets any worse.
“We should be looking to improve things, I want to pass on a nicer town to my nearest and dearest when I pop off.”
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