A former Bedfordshire Police officer who pursued an inappropriate relationship would have been dismissed from the force for gross misconduct had he not already resigned.
Former PC John Marshall left Bedfordshire Police in July 2020 after allegations around his conduct came to light.
However, under new regulations misconduct proceedings could still be brought against him.
The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Professional Standards Department received a report that Mr Marshall had had a sexual relationship with a woman who he first met online, but later encountered while responding to a concern for welfare.
A thorough investigation found that not only had Mr Marshall pursed the relationship, he repeatedly failed to take action relating to further concerns for her welfare.
A public hearing conducted virtually on Monday (December 6) ruled Mr Marshall – who chose not to attend the hearing – was found to have breached the Standards of Professional Behaviour for Discreditable Conduct, Integrity and Authority, Respect and Courtesy.
The chairman of the independent panel concluded that he would have faced instant dismissal for his actions.
Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra said: “The actions of Mr Marshall while he was a serving officer in my force are completely reprehensible – it is never okay to target vulnerable victims and his behaviour completely goes against the code of ethics we as officers are here to uphold.
“In force we are committed to tackling Male Violence Against Women and Girls and this includes the predatory nature of behaviour like Mr Marshall’s – our recently launched strategy clearly sets out our approach to improving internal practices to ensure no man who wears the police uniform would target and abuse a woman in this way, not least someone described as vulnerable.
“In addition, Mr Marshall’s actions showed flagrant disregard for the welfare of the individual in question and his failure to appropriately identify concerns and safeguard her could have ended in tragic and disastrous consequences.
“We took immediate action upon learning of the allegations surrounding Mr Marshall, and this resulted in his resignation from the force. However, as is our due process for dealing with misconduct matters, we continued a thorough investigation to ensure a full hearing was held and to ensure that Mr Marshall is placed on a barred list, which could prevent him working in similar roles in the future.”