Northamptonshire policeman accused of going home on duty without telling sergeant denies gross misconduct charge

The hearing took place at Northamptonshire Police's headquarters at Wootton Hall
The hearing took place at Northamptonshire Police's headquarters at Wootton Hall

A Northamptonshire Police officer has denied a charge of gross misconduct after being accused of going home while on duty and lying to his sergeant.

PC Philip Cole, 39, is alleged to have told members of his team he was dropping off a set of drawers at Rushden police station but instead went home to Rothwell.

A gross misconduct hearing began Wednesday at the force's headquarters in Wootton Hall to establish whether PC Cole breached standards of professional behaviour because he was absent from work without reason, neglected his duties and responsibilities and did not behave with honesty and integrity.

PC Cole argues there was a misunderstanding and that he had told colleagues he intended to go to his home in Rothwell before going to Wellingborough on a planned assignment.

September 1, 2017 - the day of the incident - was the unit's final day based at Mere Way before the site was cleared and later demolished.

During his evidence, the panel heard PC Cole had already moved the majority of his kit to Rushden, where he would be stationed before being reassigned to another location.

PC Cole said he had told his superior Sergeant Marie Turner on August 31 that he intended to go to Rothwell on his way to Wellingborough.

"I had no reason to go to Rushden at all," he told the panel.

PC Cole is alleged to have breached the duties and responsibilities because he could not be contacted while he drove to Rothwell in a police pool car.

His colleague Eloise Barratt claims she knew "for sure" that PC Cole told her he was going to Rushden - not Rothwell - in the morning when the two met at the Mere Way office.

This was then relayed to Sergeant Turner, who tried contacting the officer several times over the radio and via mobile phone - but he didn't respond because he did not have a hands-free kit at the time.

Sergeant Turner then 'pinged' PC Cole's radio to get his location, which showed his device was in Rothwell where PC Cole lived.

Sergeant Turner told the panel she was worried when she was unable to reach PC Cole over the radio, via his force issued Blackberry and on his personal mobile.

"I got concerned - I was a little worried about where he was, usually he's good at answering me," said Sergeant Turner.

"What ran through my mind was his welfare more than anything.

"I asked him where he was and he replied to say he was at Rushden police station dropping his kit off," said Sergeant Turner when she eventually reached the officer on mobile.

"I said: 'are you sure?' and he said 'yes'."

She then told PC Cole he was showing up as being in Rothwell "at your home address".

"He then started to say he had gone home because he didn't have any locker space and he didn't want to leave them [the drawers] at Rushden police station," said Sergeant Turner.

During his testimony, PC Cole said he stored the drawers in his garage and was at home for ten minutes before getting the call from his superior.

He told the panel he could sense Sergeant Turner thought he had done something wrong and when he was later accused of stealing police kit he said he was "absolutely devastated".

"I had a meltdown - I have never been accused of stealing anything in my life," he said.

"There was no reason to hide the fact that I was in Rothwell."

PC Cole had phoned his sergeant earlier in the morning to tell of his intentions but she didn't pick up.

When asked why he hadn't sent her a text message, PC Cole replied: "I wish I had."

A decision is expected later today.