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Trainee Kent Police officers guilty of misconduct after driving to Shepherdswell drunk and lying about it

A trainee police officer who drove drunk after a barbecue and another who lied to police about it have been found guilty of gross misconduct.

Former officers Joshua Risby, 21, and Katherine Smith, 29, have both since resigned after the incident, which happened after they’d been drinking at a barbecue in Aylesham near Dover on June 13, 2020.

Both officers were found guilty of miconduct
Both officers were found guilty of miconduct

The pair started training with Kent Police in Maidstone in March of the same year.

A hearing at Kent Police headquarters in Northfleet today heard how PC Risby had driven back to PC Smith’s home in Shepherdswell with PC Smith as a passenger.

Kent Police had subsequently received a phone call at 00.31am stating a student officer was drink driving having consumed ‘eight or nine beers and a few vodkas’.

The informant noted that PC Risby had fallen asleep in an upstairs bedroom before leaving in his car - a white Vauxhall Corsa, which officers found parked outside PC Smith’s home when they arrived at 1am.

PC Smith had answered the door and lied, stating that PC Risby wasn’t there and that she’d got the train home - but officers had found him in the garden, and subsequently breathalysed him, finding him to be twice over the drink drive limit.

“We say that is because she is entirely aware why the officers are there and what it is they were investigating...”

Matthew Holcroft, representing Kent Police, said footage from officers body cameras showed PC Smith appearing ‘intoxicated’, ‘bemused’ and ‘trying to think on her feet’.

“We say that is because she is entirely aware why the officers are there and what it is they were investigating.”

And he said PC Smith had tried to make suggestions to PC Risby to “provide him with an opportunity to distance himself from the car”, adding “she was throwing him rope after rope, but he kept ignoring those ropes.”

PC Risby had admitted driving back but said he had drunk two large bottles of lager when he got back to PC Smith’s address.

The account was said to be implausible and expert evidence suggested that on any account he would have been over the limit at the time of driving.

Chair of the panel Derek Marshall said the panel found both former officers guilty of gross misconduct.

He said they did not believe PC Risby’s explanation that he had drunk after arriving at PC Smith’s home, adding “both officers engaged in a clumsy and dishonest attempt to cover up a case of drinking and driving.”

Mr Marshall said both officers would have been struck off with immediate effect if they had not already resigned.

He asked why PC Risby had not been prosecuted, and was told the evidence over whether PC Risby had driven the vehicle did not meet the standards for criminal prosecution.

Both will be barred for life from a law enforcement role.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jon Armory, Head of Kent Police’s Professional Standards Department, said: "The actions of Mr Risby and Ms Smith were dangerous and dishonest which means we, and the public, can have no confidence in their ability to serve as police officers.

"As soon as the allegations were reported, we took prompt action to hold both individuals to account and this included suspending them from their training with immediate effect.

"Now that this outcome has been determined by an independent panel, we will be placing each of them on the College of Policing’s police barred list for life.

"We always expect the highest standards of professionalism and conduct from all officers and staff and the vast majority serve in line with these expectations. Those who fall short will always face scrutiny and proportionately robust action."

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