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DCC Ian Critchley, said: “I can confirm that a former police officer has been formally dismissed from post following a gross misconduct hearing.
“The hearing was called following a robust investigation by our Anti-Corruption Unit, who uncovered evidence that Connolly was failing to uphold the standards and behaviours of officers and staff who work for Merseyside Police.”
The officer concerned was also convicted for three offences of possession of extreme pornographic material at Manchester Court on 8 November and will be sentenced for this on 10 January 2022.
Following the four-day hearing the panel found that there were three breaches of professional standards which were:
• Connolly had taken photographs of vulnerable people on his personal phone whilst on duty, which is in breach of the force mobile phones and ICT policy. This breached the duty of confidence; lacked honesty and integrity and through his discreditable conduct he has undermined public confidence
• Between 2015 and 2018 Connolly stored images on his personal phone that were racist, homophobic and severely offensive and on some occasions had shared those images
• Connolly maintained contact with a known criminal and did not disclose the relationship in line with the force’s Notifiable Association Policy, as a result by socialising and associating with the criminal brought the service in to disrepute
We can confirm that images Connolly had take on his personal phone while on duty were found to be in breach of professional standards.
These images included a photo he had taken of himself while staffing the cordon at a murder scene.
This particular photo was only of Connolly and did not include any details of the scene or of the victim. Following the advice from the legally qualified chair of the gross misconduct hearing, we are unable to disclose any further details of the images Connolly took on his phone while on duty and, as such, the family of the victim has not been informed.
DCC Ian Critchley added: “I am appalled by Connolly’s actions, they are beyond comprehension and are not in keeping with the high standards and values that we expect here at Merseyside Police.
“Our officers carry out exceptionally brave selfless acts every single day, protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities, yet here we see the despicable acts of a very selfish individual who has no place in our Police Service.
“An investigation by our Anti-Corruption Unit uncovered the fact that Connolly had been using his own phone to take photographs of vulnerable people whilst on duty and that the phone also contained appalling homophobic, racist and offensive images.
“It also revealed that Connolly was an associate of a known criminal and had not declared this association. His actions are an insult to the uniform and the police service, which consistently strives to protect our communities and provide a professional and inclusive service to the people of Merseyside.
“The behaviour of this officer is deplorable and serves to undermine the public's confidence and trust in the police.
“We are quite clear, if any officer is found to be behaving in a way that does not meet our high standards we will take swift and robust action.
“Colleagues as well as the public are being proactive in identifying those who have no place in Merseyside Police.
“We have introduced a number of additional processes within the force to identify those who could bring the force in to disrepute including enhanced vetting processes and we are working with all colleagues to ensure they adhere to our force standards around the acceptable and appropriate use of social media.
“We are constantly learning and working with our staff networks, our Police Federation and Unions, our Independent Advisory Group and community contacts to continue to recruit from all our diverse communities, to help us identify areas where we can develop our policing approach and community engagement. The Chief Constable is very clear that these are the priorities for our service, for colleagues and the public . We are listening and we are acting as can be seen in this case.
"The decision today sends out a clear message and shows that Merseyside Police is committed to providing the public with a professional, understanding and inclusive policing service and we will not tolerate any abuse of office.
“We encourage both the public and our officers and staff to come forward if they witness wrongdoing, and we will act as you have seen in this case, quickly and professionally.
“The Police Service will not tolerate this type of behaviour. We are rooting out those who have no place in policing. The acts of officers like Connolly seriously undermines the good work going on every day across the force, but I will continue to shout loudly about the professional, empathetic, selfless, brave, inclusive colleagues who everyday put the communities first in everything they do.
"These acts should never be overshadowed by the acts of someone like Connolly who rightly been criminally convicted and is no longer a part of Merseyside Police, a service and force, that is here to proudly protect and serve our communities.”