A North Yorkshire Police officer who took a statement from someone she was “closely connected with” has been handed a final written warning but allowed to keep her job after a misconduct hearing.
Inspector Sarah Sanderson, who has worked in the Hambleton, Ryedale and Harrogate districts, had misconduct allegations against her upheld after a three-day hearing at the force’s Newby Wiske base.
Inspector Sanderson has had a long and, other than this, positive career in the police service, serving the community.Paul Kennedy, North Yorkshire Police
The officer was said after the hearing to have “faced a very difficult and worrying period in her life” during which “her career has hung in the balance and her husband has been seriously ill”.
According to the force, the disciplinary panel, led by an independent legally-qualified chairperson, upheld the allegations against her “after deliberating for several hours”.
Insp Sanderson was accused of taking a statement from a person she was closely connected with, contrary to good practice, and used the police computer system to access information for personal rather than policing purposes.
The force said she also “provided intelligence on a person known to her without disclosing this personal connection, and that this intelligence contained her personal opinion and unsubstantiated information”.
The panel concluded that Inspector Sanderson should remain in the force, but be given a final written warning.
Acting Deputy Chief Constable Paul Kennedy said: “Statistics show that North Yorkshire Police is rated highly by the public, but we do not take that for granted.
“Where there has been wrong-doing, it is important for that to be subjected to the very highest level of scrutiny, and that is what the panel has done here.
“Inspector Sanderson has had a long and, other than this, positive career in the police service, serving the community.
“We accept and respect the panel’s decision that she should remain in force, with the sanction of a final written warning.”
Brad Jackson, Deputy Secretary of North Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, welcomed the decision to allow her to keep her job,
He said: “During the last year, whilst this investigation has been taking place, Inspector Sanderson has faced a very difficult and worrying period in her life. Her career has hung in the balance and her husband has been seriously ill.
“It is a testament to her professionalism, and her commitment towards the people of North Yorkshire, that she has been able to remain working and serving the community through such a personally challenging time.
“The decision reached by the panel today is a welcomed one. Inspector Sanderson has drawn valuable learning from this process and now looks forward to the rest of her career within North Yorkshire Police, and continuing to serve the residents of North Yorkshire.”
The misconduct hearing was only the second to be held by North Yorkshire Police since forces nationwide were told to make them public in the interests of transparency and accountability.
When a newspaper reporter attempted to attend the first day of the hearing earlier this week, they were turned away on the grounds that they had not given the required two days notice.