A detective who pinged a ruler across a female colleague’s bottom and said she was ‘sexy’ has kept his job – after she told a misconduct panel ‘I’d work with him again tomorrow’.
Detective Sergeant Paul Elrick, 48, told the junior officer she was ‘sexy’ and looked and smelt ‘gorgeous.’
She offered to make him a cup of tea but as she walked past his desk he pinged her across the buttocks with a ruler.
Tonight his 24 year career with Sussex Police was in tatters after charges of gross misconduct were proven.
But a disciplinary panel ruled he could keep his job and instead handed him a final written warning after hearing he was ashamed of his ‘childish’ and ‘schoolboy’ behaviour.
It was told it was not the only inappropriate behaviour he had displayed towards the officer.
Mr Elrick said he had ‘learnt a very valuable lesson’ before thanking panel for ‘a second chance’
Detective Sergeant Paul Elrick, 48, told the junior officer she was ‘sexy’ and smelt ‘gorgeous’
He had approached the same officer, identified only as PC X, squeezed her shoulders and then tickled her sides causing her to jump.
And three months earlier he had sent a series of ‘crass’ and ‘sexualised’ Facebook messages to the same officer while she was off work.
Mr Elrick, who joined Sussex Police 24 year ago and was based in Hastings, appeared before a police disciplinary panel via video link to face charges his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct.
The officer accepted he was guilty of misconduct and admitted he had behaved like an ‘immature schoolboy’ but refuted the gross misconduct charges.
Giving evidence to the panel Mr Elrick claimed he knew the junior officer very well and was only trying to be humorous.
The hearing was told Mr Elrick joined the force in 1996 and had known the female officer for 18 years and the pair shared an office.
Mr Elrick joined the force in 1996 and had known the female officer for 18 years
The panel heard that in March this year, Mr Elrick sent a series of Facebook messages to the female officer.
PC X had undergone surgery and was recovering at home when she received the messages.
Robert Talalay, representing the force, said the pair were involved in a conversation on Facebook messenger.
After one message, where she told him another colleague had said she would make a good solo office he asked ‘Tell me, did he rub your t***?’
He told the hearing: ‘I knew she was having an operation as we had spoken about it and I knew she was concerned about it.
‘We have a similar personality. We have always got on very well. We easily spoke to each other.
Sussex Police’s headquarters in Lewes, the force which Mr Elrick had joined back in 1996
‘The comments are crass. They are immature and school ground wording which I am not proud of whatsoever. I certainly do not treat women with such crass discourtesy.’
He said he had hoped the messages would be received in a ‘sense of humour’ for which PC X knew him for.
He said: ‘I deeply regret the language and if I could I would take it back.’
Mr Elrick admitted that just three months later, in June last year, he pinged a ruler across her bottom as she walked past his desk.
He described it as ‘schoolboy behaviour’ and ‘stupid’ but denied it was sexually motivated.
He said he had no recollection of the incident and didn’t know what had provoked it, adding it was more likely the offending weapon was an elastic band rather than a ruler.
‘I don’t usually have a ruler at hand,’ he explained. ‘It was more likely to have been an elastic band. I understand it is behaviour that is not warranted. I allowed my familiarity with PC X to blur my professional judgement.
‘We had known each other for so long the lines were blurred between my professional responsibilities and my schoolboy behaviour.
‘It’s an action I deeply regret and I am personally disappointed in it. There was nothing going through my mind. There was no sexualised behaviour and at no point around this was there any sexual motivation.’
Mr Elrick was also accused of tickling the officer in an action which was both ‘inappropriate and unwanted.’
He told the hearing: ‘I went to ask her a question. I placed my hands on her shoulders.
‘I poked her in the side to make her jump. In doing so I thought it was funny. It was behaviour that is clearly immature and not worthy of a professional officer.
‘I found myself in a situation where I thought poking her in the side was funny. I like having a friendly office environment.’
The disciplinary hearing was told PC X had not wanted to make a complaint against the senior officer but the matter had been reported by a third party.
Giving evidence anonymously, she told the panel the messages she received from her senior officer and the pinging of her buttocks with a ruler were done within the context of the long-term friendship the pair enjoyed.
PC X told the panel: ‘It was a small malfunction within our friendship. It was dealt with at the time. It was a one-off. I’d work with him again tomorrow.’
However Robert Talalay, for the force, said it was important to take a stand on behalf of the reputation of Sussex Police.
He said: ‘In summation: Because of the disparity in rank, because of he vulnerability of PC X especially surrounding the messages and because the language in the messages was highly sexualised the conduct amounts to gross misconduct. A marker of that is the Sergeant Elrick’s own recognition of how egregious his behaviour was.’
However Adam James, for Mr Elrick, said the type of behaviour which is acceptable between two friends is not necessarily appropriate at a professional level.
The panel chair, Muzamil Khan, ruled he could keep his job and instead handed down a final written warning.
Mr Elrick told the panel: ‘I will strive to be a better officer. I have learnt a very valuable lesson and thank you for giving me a second chance.’