09/10/2012 07:17 BST

Cleveland Police Officer Sacked After Cuddling Suspected Shoplifter

A police officer who admitted cuddling a suspected shoplifter has been sacked for gross misconduct days after the Chief Constable of his force was dismissed for the same charge.

The unnamed 36-year-old Cleveland Police constable was fired following a disciplinary hearing which found he inappropriately touched a woman who had been arrested in Stockton-on-Tees in August 2011.

The police watchdog said the Pc's behaviour implied he would help the suspect if she accepted his sexual advances.

police officer uk

The police officer, who admitted cuddling the suspect, was sacked (stock photo)

Last Thursday, Sean Price, 55, was sacked as the force's Chief Constable for gross misconduct after he was found to have lied to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and tried to get a member of staff to back him up. That matter concerned the recruitment of the then police authority chairman's daughter to a civilian role.

The sacked constable was investigated after the suspected shoplifter made an allegation, and the IPCC launched an inquiry.

A disciplinary hearing found last week that he had abused his position as a police officer, acted without honesty and integrity and behaved unprofessionally.

The officer did not deal with the woman correctly as a detainee and touched her inappropriately.

In a statement, the IPCC said did not adhere to the clear rules on arresting and interviewing suspects.

He did not follow Home Office guidelines for the recording and non-recording of crimes.

On his own admission, the officer made contact with the complainant by giving her a cuddle and this act was deemed wholly inappropriate and in the circumstances was considered an act of gross misconduct, the IPCC said.

As a result, the officer faced a disciplinary hearing and was dismissed without notice.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: "This officer acted in a completely inappropriate way to a woman who was in his custody.

"His behaviour implied he would assist the woman only if she accepted his sexual advances.

"Such behaviour is reprehensible and it is correct he has been dismissed.

"The IPCC recently highlighted the issue of officers abusing their power for sexual gratification and, regrettably, this is another example.

"Such behaviour appears to be used to target those who are vulnerable and it is a fundamental betrayal of trust."

In January last year, Pc Stephen Mitchell, of Northumbria Police, was jailed for life for a string of sexual assaults and rapes on drug addicts and shoplifters who had been arrested.

The officer had been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault but was released without charge, Cleveland Police said.

A spokeswoman said: "An internal disciplinary hearing upheld the allegation of sexual touching, and found the officer had abused his position as a police officer, acted without honesty and integrity and behaved unprofessionally.

"He was immediately dismissed from the force."