Off duty behaviour isn’t off duty any more

In the messages, the disgraced Essex Police response officer referred to a “pikey killings trial” and said Asians “reproduce like 3/1 compared to us”.

The former Royal Signals soldier even described a waitress working in a London bar as a “hot black chick”, “umbongo” and “coco angel” when out with friends.

Not exactly enlightened.

Mitigation heard that he had never used the language with his police colleagues or shown any prejudice whilst serving the public.

Alston joined the force in 2013 after working as a PCSO and served in the Army Reserve for more than 10 years.

Detective Superintendent Dean Chapple, head of the Essex Police’s professional standards department, said: “PC Alston was a highly respected and capable officer however his conduct, whilst off duty and in the presence of selected friends who were not associated with policing, fell way below the standards we expect of our officers and in no way represents our values.

“All police officers are responsible for their own actions and we cannot just turn off those standards and values in policing when it suits a given environment or group.”


Sure, what you do at work is fair game. But nattering over a pint with non-work mates – which is roughly what a WhatsApp group is – gets you canned? Don’t we think that’s delving a little too far into what should be private life?

This is also a tad extreme:

Alston failed to challenge homophobic slurs

You mean, in private life, that’s necessary? When in buggery did this become a requirement for anyone? You’re in a pub, someone says “shirtlifter”, you fail to walk over and tell ’em off and you lose your job as a thief taker? Might we not have made a societal error here?

16 comments on “Off duty behaviour isn’t off duty any more

  1. Number of Moslem police officers disciplined for “failing to challenge homophobic slurs” at the mosque =

  2. So was she not hot, not black, not female? Otherwise it’s an accurate compliment.
    I could advise Essex police of more pressing problems that deserve attention.

  3. “When in buggery did this become a requirement for anyone?”

    An apt phrase.

    Of course, thinking of things I’ve said in the presence of mates down the rugby club, I’ve just given up any thought of a life which brings me widespread media attention.

  4. If failing to challenge anti-gay sentiment is a sackable thing, then it’s going to be very difficult to be a practicing Muslim and a member of the police force, isn’t it? Or a Roman Catholic for that matter.

  5. “ Might we not have made a societal error here?”

    To quote Hawkwind, ‘We took the wrong step years ago’.

  6. “PC Alston was a highly respected and capable officer”

    If he’d been a shit police officer and not said these things, he’d still be in a job. You can last years in the public sector as a clean-living incompetent.

    Public sector and large corporations police behaviour much harder than delivery. You get caught shagging the new admin assistant in a meeting room a small place, it’s office gossip. Do it in a large place, it’s a disciplinary or worse. On the other hand, if you don’t get the job done in a large place, you’ll be there for months, years. Probably you’ll be out the door with the next round of redundancies with a payoff. In a small place, they’ll fire you.

  7. Korrekt Fink, reared it’s head with Israel folau. He tweeted something along the lines of Fabulous men are going to hell. So presumably doctrine straight from a church or other.
    Result: sacked.

    But hold on
    a) how can his sacking not be a form of persecution on religious beliefs?
    b) in order to say its a bad statement you have to acknowledge that hell exists. If it doesn’t then kind of not that bad.
    c) I have some sympathy with the argument that if your fellow teammates think you’re a dick then could be best for team cohesion that you go. However we’re talking an Australian wing, no one has to talk to him out there, and they put up with Campese who was a monumental knob and even goosestepped for cryin out loud.

  8. Hallowed Be
    Won’t the get him on some clause in his contract about social media conduct? Not what he actually said but the effect it had?

  9. yup, and he was warned about it before, so it wouldn’t have been a surprise to him. Just wonder what knotty small print allows them to outlaw evangelising a religious belief.

  10. “Off duty behaviour isn’t off duty any more”

    “Sure, what you do at work is fair game. But nattering over a pint with non-work mates – which is roughly what a WhatsApp group is – gets you canned? Don’t we think that’s delving a little too far into what should be private life? ”

    Are police ever actually off-duty anymore?

    I know, here in the US, they get the protections and privileges of being a law enforcement officer 24 hours a day *and* keep them when they retire. They get those protections and privileges as LEO’s *even while working at non-police jobs* in their ‘off-duty’ hours.

    If so, then we can, reasonably IMO, expect on-duty quality of behavior from them 24 hours a day.

  11. It’s “bringing the xxxx into disrepute”

    Applies to military, vets, denttists, doctors, lawyers, nurses, police…..

    If you’re a doctor/dentist and arrested/charged a GMC/GDC case will be opened.

    Mrs Pcar’s boss was banned for 6 months for DUI, GDC suspended him with review after 1 year when he was reinstated.

  12. I was thinking that Julia had a perfectly good point. Who uses real names?

    But this wasn’t shitface or twatter. it was a private whatsapp group (not visible outside of the group). The only reason it ever came to light at all is that one of the others in the group much later had their equipment confiscated by plod, at which point some otherwise private encrypted communications of years back…

    Hence, Julia is spot on. Even a private whatsapp group can benefit from first principle privacy procedures. Very few will think like that when it comes to something like whatsapp.

  13. @PF

    What privacy procedures can you do on a private whatsapp group? Speaking from a position of ignorance here, but aren’t you potentially screwed if any of your contacts in that group have a hissy-fit or are otherwise compromised?

    @people discussing Folau

    We’ve been here before years back, with a different religious belief and different offended group, with Glenn Hoddle?

  14. MBE

    “What privacy procedures can you do on a private whatsapp group?”

    I’m not sure anyone does this, as I alluded to, but simply using alternative ID’s (within the private group) rather than real IDs?

    People don’t – they already imagine it’s completely private.

    It wouldn’t protect against a hissy fit or similar from one of the other group members, but might protect against the particular situation outlined in the article?

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