Rochdale police officer sacked after stalking and harassment convictions

Date published: 04 July 2022

A Rochdale police officer has been sacked after being convicted of stalking and harassment.

PC Gareth Walker, who GMP confirmed was based in Rochdale, appeared at a misconduct hearing on 23 June, chaired by the force’s chief constable.

Outlining the case, Chief Constable Stephen Watson said that PC Walker was last year convicted of stalking and harassment in relation to his former wife and her new partner.

In July last year, PC Walker appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court and was convicted of both offences. The hearing was told he was jailed for 24 weeks, suspended for a year, and ordered to abide by the terms of a five-year restraining order. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,150.  

He appealed to the Crown Court, but the appeal was subsequently dismissed this year.

In a new published ruling, Chief Constable Watson said: “I do not dismiss the fact that clear evidence exists to support the proposition that PC Walker was, at the time of the index offence, suffering acutely in the aftermath of his marital breakdown.

“In PC Walker’s own words, he got things badly wrong on the basis of the powerful emotions with which he was grappling at a difficult time for him and his family.

“I am not however persuaded that the evidence to have is such as to demonstrate that PC Walker’s personal capacity had been so diminished as to impact his ability to be able to distinguish right from wrong. PC Walker’s detailed knowledge of the law means that he should have known that the course of conduct upon which he had embarked was both unlawful and harmful to others.

“I take into account PC Walker’s record of service and the many glowing testimonials provided. Further I acknowledge that at the time he committed the offences, he was experiencing grave difficulties and distress at the manner in which painful events in his life were unfolding.

“Whilst this clearly provides a relevant contest in this matter, having weighed the facts carefully, I was unable to conclude that this context was of sufficient weight to comprise complete mitigation for what remains a very serious breach of professional standards.

“I am compelled to conclude that PC Walker presents as an otherwise decent man and I feel sure that it would be quite unfair to bracket him lazily on the basis of a superficial grasp of these matters. Nonetheless, PC Walker allowed powerful emotions to erode his judgement to the extend that he now stands convicted of criminal offences.

“I find that I am unable to reconcile the gravity of this misconduct with doing anything other than imposing a sanction that fully reflects the seriousness of these events. For this reason, I have determined that PC Walker should be dismissed from the service without notice.”

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