A POLICE force ignored its own policies by handing investigations into rape and serious offences to a junior detective, a disciplinary hearing has heard.

North Yorkshire Police was also guilty of a catalogue of other failings that led to Detective Constable Nick Lane facing allegations of gross misconduct while working in its protecting vulnerable persons unit, said Steven Crossley, defending the officer.

DC Lane denies his conduct in late 2014 amounted to a breach of the standards of professional behaviour, in that he failed in his duties and responsibilities and that his conduct had been “discreditable”.

It is alleged he failed to carry out basic investigative enquiries, failed to conduct enquiries in a timely manner and failed to fulfil his obligations in relation to disclosure in a number of investigations that he was responsible for.

Details of the allegations have not been revealed as Mr Crossley has applied to the disciplinary panel to dismiss the case before it is heard.

At the start of a scheduled nine-day hearing at the force’s headquarters at Newby Wiske, near Northallerton, he said there had been unacceptable delays in alerting DC Lane to the investigation, and that it had been unfair and unbalanced.

Mr Crossley said numerous officers working for the unit had raised concerns over excessive workloads and stress and were considering quitting the force when DC Lane, who it is understood was based in York, was interviewed over his alleged failings.

He said a wellbeing study of officers in the unit stated they suffered major anxiety, lacked knowledge and “had too many plates spinning at once”, but “just got on with the job”.

Mr Crossley said: “Officers often felt like they were letting the victims down.”

The panel heard the senior officer who gave the go-ahead for the allegations could not have made an impartial decision about his conduct as she had been responsible for managing officers’ workloads.

Mr Crossley said DC Lane had also raised concerns over his lack of training, while the force’s policy stipulated only officers of detective sergeant rank could conduct rape investigations, but DC Lane had been handed that duty.

He said: “North Yorkshire Police was operating in breach of its own policy and the consequences of this were foreseeable and grave.”

The hearing was told DC Lane had not been given key documents relating to the investigation into him, but George Thomas, for the force, dismissed claims that delays in bringing the case and failures in providing important material had affected DC Lane’s right to a fair hearing.

He said: “Even without the documents there is enough evidence to paint a clear picture of the allegations.”

Nicola Murphy, the panel’s chairman, adjourned the hearing and said a decision on whether the case is dismissed would be made today.

The hearing is the force’s fourth to be held in public since the Government ruled in May last year that all police misconduct cases needed to visible.