Essex police chief guilty of misconduct after throwing stress ball at colleague

Deputy Chief Constable Matthew Horne of Essex Police. Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Deputy Chief Constable Matthew Horne of Essex Police. Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

A senior Essex police officer did hurl a stress ball at a colleague’s throat, a misconduct hearing has ruled.

Matthew Horne, deputy chief constable of Essex Police, faced three misconduct allegations, which were all found proven by a panel sitting in Chelmsford today.

Mr Horne, who is currently on secondment to the National Crime Agency, does not face the sack after the ruling, but possible sanctions include management action, a written warning or final written warning.

The first allegation was that he angrily swore at a colleague and leaned in with clenched fists, the second was that he pushed a colleague against a desk, and the third was that he threw a rubber stress ball at a colleague’s throat, leaving a red mark.

The panel found that, in respect of the first allegation, Mr Horne did swear at Superintendent Glenn Maleary, which amounts to misconduct, but the rest of the allegation was found unproven.

He also pushed Chief Superintendent Carl O’Malley, causing him to fall on to a desk, and threw a rubber stress ball, which hit Mr O’Malley’s throat and left a red mark, the panel concluded, with both allegations proven at a level of misconduct.

The panel recommended to Essex Police that management advice be given to Mr Horne, stating that taking no further action would not in its view be appropriate.

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A force spokesman said: “We note the findings of the panel.

“A further hearing will be held in public in due course in order that the Chief Constable, as appropriate authority, can decide on what sanction will be applied.”

The spokesman added that the events happened more than two years ago, and that the force had since been inspected on ethical conduct with inspectors finding that “leaders are aware of the importance of an ethical approach and act as ethical role models”.

“We will reflect carefully on the detailed panel findings and will, of course, look to ensure that any wider learning for the force is taken on board,” the spokesman added.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) – formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission – launched an investigation into the allegations in January last year and concluded in July there was a case to answer for potential gross misconduct, prompting this week’s hearing.

IOPC regional director Sarah Green said: “We expect the highest standards of professional behaviour from the police, and those in senior positions should lead by example.

“Mr Horne’s behaviour towards two subordinates was unacceptable for any police officer, let alone one of his seniority and experience.

“Our investigation and the subsequent public hearing has allowed effective scrutiny of this issue. We will also make public our investigation report after the Chief Constable of Essex has held a further meeting next month and decided the appropriate sanction Mr Horne should face.”

Roger Hirst, Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “The vast majority of Essex Police officers and staff behave with exceptional professionalism. However it is important if an issue or complaint is raised in relation to any police officer, regardless of their seniority or rank, then the public and police colleagues need to be confident that those issues will be fully and fairly investigated.

“While I am unable to comment on the particulars of this case, I am assured all of the correct processes are being followed and that the hearing has been heard in an open, transparent and independent way.”

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