A HEARING into the behaviour of a North Wales Police officer who had sexual contact with a 'vulnerable' man while on duty determined that it amounted to gross misconduct and warranted her losing her job.

The hearing, at North Wales police HQ in Colwyn Bay, decided she would have been dismissed from the force.

However, admitting to having sexual contact with an alleged victim of historic sexual abuse, the officer quit her job just before a misconduct hearing began

PC Andrea Griffiths, who worked in the Eastern area of the force which covers Flintshire and Wrexham, had been a liaison officer for the “vulnerable” middle-aged man. He was known at the police misconduct hearing as “Mr X” and left the public seats in the room shortly after it started.

Barrister Nicholas Walker, for the PC, read a statement to the panel in which she stated :”I recognise I shouldn’t have had sexual contact with Mr X on 29 June 2015. I accept gross misconduct and I deeply regret that it happened.

“To avoid further embarrassment to everyone I have resigned forthwith from North Wales police.”

Mr Walker told the panel: "You are dealing with someone who is no longer an officer.”

He said the policewoman had chosen not to attend the hearing.

The notice of the hearing stated: "It is alleged that PC Griffiths has breached the standards of professional behaviour relating to discreditable conduct, authority, respect, honesty and integrity.”

However, Mr Walker pointed out :”There was no actual allegation of dishonesty in this case. There’s an acceptance there was sexual contact with Mr X on that one day. She recognises that fundamentally breached the standards referred to and she has resigned.”

Amy Clarke, lawyer for the force, said the allegations being pursued had narrowed and no live witness evidence needed to be given to the hearing. She said the allegation centred around the PC developing an “inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable male.”

PC Griffiths had engaged in sexual activity with him and an aggravating feature was that it happened on duty.

She had joined the force in 2001 and the man was being “managed” by North Wales police as the alleged victim of historic sexual offences.

“There was considerable concern for his welfare,” Miss Clarke explained.

The officer was in a position of “particular trust” and even a single incident of sexual activity in this context must be at the “very most serious end of the scale,” counsel remarked.

Panel chairwoman Susan Davies said the policewoman had “behaved in a way discreditable to North Wales police.” Her conduct was so serious that dismissal would have been justified.

Mr Walker told the panel :”While there are many things I could say, I don’t want to get in a position where you are required to hear evidence.”

The only allegation against her at the hearing was sexual activity on the day in 2015.

The panel ruled the breaches were so serious the only appropriate outcome would have been the sack, if she were still a serving officer.

The panel chairwoman said :”It would have been abundantly clear Mr X was vulnerable because of his background and mental health difficulties and she shouldn’t have any sexual contact with him.”

The officer had developed a “strong and inappropriate personal bond” with him which went outside the expected boundaries. She had been experiencing personal difficulties at home.

PC Griffiths had tried to hide the relationship with the man who had a “personality disorder” by telling him to delete phone messages, the chairwoman noted. “He found it very difficult to trust the police. He had in the past made complaints about North Wales police,” the judgement said.

The policewoman, it was claimed, had “little insight into Mr X’s vulnerability” and had referred to him as “highly manipulative.”

The force had referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who directed that the investigation was carried out by the force under their supervision.

The allegation was investigated by the NWP Professional Standards Department who concluded that the former officer’s conduct should be subject to a misconduct hearing.

The hearing determined that the behaviour of the officer amounted to gross misconduct and decided that had she not resigned from her post she would have been dismissed from the force.

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki said: “Firstly, I would like to apologise to the victim in this matter who was badly let down by the person who was entrusted to support him.

“Society puts great faith in police officers to work with members of the public, often when they are at their most vulnerable. The majority of our officers do a fantastic job of supporting those in need of help and in doing so always strive to retain the trust and confidence of the public.

“Unfortunately, in this rare case, the action of a former police constable breached this trust and fell far below the highest levels of professional behaviour we, and the public, rightly expect from our police officers.

“It is unacceptable to the force that an officer should act in a way that undermines the excellent work of the vast majority of our staff who serve our communities with integrity.”

IOPC Director for Major Investigations Steve Noonan said: “Police personnel who abuse their position for sexual purpose have no place in policing and our research shows this is one of the areas of police conduct that most concerns the general public.

“North Wales Police took this case seriously and carried out a thorough investigation into the allegation against former PC Griffiths, under our supervision.”