A DISGRACED former detective has been found guilty of gross misconduct after allegedly carrying out a sustained campaign of sexually grooming young women.

Former Detective Inspector Simon Hurwood, who resigned from Cleveland Police in September, is said to have coerced mainly young and subordinate female colleagues into performing sex acts on him and bombarded them with Whatsapp messages pressurising them to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves.

A misconduct hearing into the former officer's behaviour ruled that 'he has abused his position (as a high ranking officer) for his own sexual gratification'.

The 53-year-old officer, who once worked in the force’s professional standards department, has been barred from serving in any police force again after 21 women complained about sexual misconduct over a period of 14 years.

All the alleged victims are or were serving police officers, staff or in associated companies.

Chair of the panel LQC Simon Mallett said there were 21 complainants "young and mainly relatively junior members of the force"

"Throughout this time, he was treating the department as his personal recruitment centre for his own sexual gratification.

"He considered that his role and his contacts in the force protected him from the consequences of his actions.

"The panel on the balance of probabilities states that he engaged in a course of conduct throughout 04-18 where he subjected complainants to sexual misconduct, ranging from inappropriate messaging, harassment, coercive control to actual assault.

"The reporting of his behaviour to the professional standards department resulted in no action being taken against him which resulted in his conduct and misconduct increasing in severity.

"By the end of his time in that department he had embarked on an unfettered pursuit of young women in the office and his conduct was out of control and unashamed."

Xanthe Tait speaks after Simon Hurwood found guilty of gross misconduct, above

Speaking after the conclusion of the misconduct hearing Cleveland Police Chief Constable Mike Veale said the former officer has acted 'shamefully' for more than a decade.

He said: “My message is clear to both my colleagues at Cleveland Police and those we serve - I will not tolerate anyone at any rank abusing their position of authority and trust. This individual does not represent the rank and file of Cleveland Police and there is no place for him in our organisation.

“For more than a decade he acted shamefully and was confronted thanks to a brave individual coming forward and blowing the whistle on him. They had the trust and confidence in our Counter Corruption Unit, they believed the team would take their claims seriously, they would be listened to and we would act upon the information they gave us. We did not let them down. My team has honoured their anonymity.

"We do not know who this individual is, they used our confidential internal email system, but I want to thank them on behalf of every right minded colleague who works in Cleveland Police. I’m proud of you, you did a brave and honourable thing and most importantly you did the right thing.

“In many respects Cleveland Police is like many other large private and public sector organisations and I will continue to be relentless to ensure our working environment is high quality and enables people to flourish.

“The direction I am giving colleagues working within our new Standards and Ethics team, which was put in place following a root and branch review over the last two years, is to act upon information that is provided, seek out corruption and misconduct wherever it is and root it out. We will act without fear or favour, without regard to rank or seniority. We will listen, we will act and we will fairly investigate.”