Police officer dismissed after social distancing altercation outside Tesco Express in Shefford

The incident took place during the first national lockdown

By Laura Hutchinson
Thursday, 28th October 2021, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th October 2021, 4:06 pm
Bedfordshire Police headquarters
Bedfordshire Police headquarters

A detective constable has been dismissed without notice after an off-duty altercation outside Tesco Express in Shefford.

DC Ben Jones faced three allegations relating to inappropriate language, use of force and misuse of a warrant card in an attempt to seize CCTV.

A three-day hearing found he had breached the standard of professional behaviour for integrity; authority, respect and courtesy and discreditable conduct.

Allegations around honesty and use of force were not upheld.

An independent misconduct panel heard DC Jones had become involved in an argument with two men over social distancing at a Tesco Express store in Shefford on April 18 last year – during the height of the first national Covid lockdown.

During the incident, DC Jones admitted pushing one of the men in self-defence before identifying himself as a police officer, according to a statement from Bedfordshire Police.

The statement added: "The men also claimed he swore at them on several occasions during the incident, some of which he admitted.

"He then spoke to the Tesco manager about CCTV, claiming he had wanted the manager to preserve it as evidence for any investigation.

"He and the men involved reported the incident to the police and an investigation was launched."

DC Jones contested the allegations, but the panel ruled against him on two counts including not having a lawful purpose to attempt to seize the CCTV.

The breaches were found to have amounted to gross misconduct and he was dismissed without notice.

The panel’s legally qualified chair Karimulla Akbar Khan, said: “The proven facts of this case point to the officer who lost his temper during the incident even after he had declared himself an officer and sought inappropriately to assert his authority over a member of the public.

“While the panel accepts that this was a difficult time for everyone given the Covid-19 pandemic, the officer’s behaviour in the view of the Panel constitutes a significant breach of public trust.”