A disgraced police officer who tried to start a relationship with a vulnerable woman would have been sacked if he hadn’t already quit the force.

Former Cleveland Police sergeant Michael Wilson abused his position when he discovered the woman, who he already followed on Instagram, had allegedly been assaulted by her partner.

The 20-year veteran turned up at the scene to escort her home before sending her a number of messages trying to meet up with her outside of work.

An independent panel heard how he promised the woman a ‘good time’ if she agreed to go a walk or a coffee with him.

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The ex-officer refused to attend the independent disciplinary hearing, as did the woman involved in the case and her former partner whose initial complaint started the investigation.

This morning (Thursday, October 12), the legally qualified chair, Shamaila Qureshi said the panel ruled the officer would have been dismissed without notice if he was still serving after finding him guilty of gross misconduct.

She said the former officer was intent on forming a relationship with the woman despite a previous warning about similar conduct towards colleagues.

“He clearly ignored that and chose to communicate with the victim of alleged domestic abuse for his own gain,” she added.

“This was not in line with force policy and this behaviour undermines public confidence in the police.

“He has discredited Cleveland Police.”

Mark Ley-Morgan, representing the Cleveland Police, urged the panel to impose the toughest sanction possible to protect the integrity of forces around the country.

“This wasn’t something done on the spur of the moment, it was something that was done over a protracted period of time.

“The harm here really is reputational harm. And of course, you have agreed that this was harm that was caused in relation to this matter where there was already national concern,” he said.

“He clearly targeted the victim, as soon as he heard the name he was checking if it was the person, he thought it might be and it went from there.”

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Detective Constable David Cook, who carried out the investigation, told the panel members that the woman blocked the officer’s number when he sent her messages on Instagram after telling her how he already followed her account.

He said she instigated contact with the ex-officer the following month after a colleague visited her home while she was out and she wanted to know why they had attempted to contact her.

DC Cook said the woman believed that Mr Wilson had taken advantage of her situation and felt uneasy about him messaging her.

Mr Wilson was placed on the College of Policing’s barred list preventing him from working for any other force in the country.

Following the hearing Cleveland Police Head of Directorate of Standards and Ethics has released a statement. 

Acting Superintendent John Bonner, Acting Head of Directorate of Standards and Ethics, said:

“Cleveland Police’s Counter Corruption Unit has robust processes in place to manage and monitor officers and staff who are considered to pose a risk of perpetrating sexual misconduct as part of Operation Beacon.

"The approach was praised by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) during their inspection of the effectiveness of vetting and counter-corruption arrangements in Cleveland Police (published June 2023).

“Former officer, Michael Wilson, was being monitored and managed through Operation Beacon. This led to the Counter Corruption Unit conducting an intervention with him in February 2021. Both Michael Wilson and his supervisors were warned that his conduct was being monitored, he was reminded of the Standards of Professional Behaviour.

“Despite the intervention he went on to abuse his power for a sexual purpose with a vulnerable victim of domestic abuse. His supervisors were aware of the concerns due to the Beacon intervention so when they became aware of the allegations they reported them to the Counter Corruption Unit immediately.

"Less than 24 hours after the report Cleveland Police referred the allegations to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and suspended him from duty.

“Cleveland Police worked in collaboration with the IOPC to investigate the misconduct. Despite resigning, the investigation continued seeking justice and Mr Wilson’s barring from the Police service.

“There can be fewer greater betrayals by a Police officer when they choose to abuse their power to develop an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable victim of crime. The panel found that Mr Wilson betrayed the trust of Ms A and the public.

“Mr Wilson does not represent the vast majority of hard working and honest Police officers. Today’s finding of Gross Misconduct and sanction of dismissal, had he still been serving, ensures that he will never again be able to represent the Police service in any capacity.

“I would like to thank the IOPC for their support in bringing this case to a hearing.”