Police have confirmed the senior ranking Sussex Police officer under investigation and suspended following an allegation of racist and offensive behaviour during an incident is Chief Superintendent Neil Honnor.
Mr Honnor, the East Sussex Divisional Commander, is alleged to have made racist and offensive comments on September 5 while in a taxi that had picked him up while he was off duty in Eastbourne.
Mr Honnor is a regular in and around Eastbourne and is often at the Hammonds Drive Police Station.
He welcomed Home Secretary Theresa May when she visited the police station and was at the recent opening of the combined police and council offices at 1 Grove Road.
The police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, revealed yesterday (Monday) that it was investigating two officers, one a senior ranking one and the other a police inspector.
The ISPCC said it is alleged that on September 5 this year the two officers, while off-duty in Eastbourne, were argumentative with two different taxi drivers and one officer made threats to have the taxi licence removed from one of them. During the subsequent journey home it is alleged the senior officer made racist and offensive remarks to a taxi driver who subsequently complained to Sussex Police.
The IPCC said the investigation will also consider the alleged accessing of police information by the one of the officers following the incident and if this was appropriate and authorised.
The senior officer has been notified the IPCC is considering criminal matters in relation to the offences for public order offences. The other officer has been notified that the IPCC is considering criminal matters in relation to offences committed under the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act, and is also under investigation for failing to adequately challenge and report the improper conduct of the other officer.
The IPCC will now conduct an independent investigation into the behaviour of both officers following a referral from Sussex Police and that following a request from the IPCC, Sussex Police has suspended the officer with allegations of racist and offensive behaviour against them for the duration of the investigation, owing to their seniority and the seriousness of the alleged offences.
IPCC Commissioner Jennifer Izekor said, “That a senior officer has been accused of such serious and criminal misconduct in a public setting and racist behaviour towards a member of the public is of significant concern and it is therefore appropriate that the IPCC provides independent oversight of this investigation.”
Sussex Police confirmed a senior Sussex Police officer is under investigation following an allegation and subsequent enquiries carried out by Sussex Police showed an inspector accessed a police IT system in relation to the incident and it is alleged they did not have a lawful purpose to do so.
A spokesperson at Sussex Police said, “These matters were referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and it has decided to conduct an independent investigation.
“Sussex Police has suspended the senior officer for the duration of the investigation into allegations of racist and offensive behaviour.
Sussex Police deputy chief constable Olivia Pinkney said, “We take any report of racism very seriously, along with any inappropriate access to police IT systems and we will co-operate with the IPCC in their investigation.
“Sussex Police cares about developing and has invested in building its relationship with BME communities, through its neighbourhood policing teams and support from an independent Race Advisory Group.
“We remain fully committed to providing a fair and non-discriminatory policing service to our communities.”
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