An on-duty police officer who dishonestly scanned a seven pence barcode for carrots to get a £9.95 box of Krispy Kreme donuts has been sacked for gross misconduct.
Pc Simon Read claimed at a disciplinary hearing that he made an honest mistake at the self-service tills at Tesco Extra in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire but a panel ruled that his explanation was “lacking in credibility”.
The Cambridgeshire police officer was in uniform when he purchased four items from the store – the tray of 12 donuts, the carrots, a sandwich and a drink – on February 10 this year.
He scanned the carrots barcode twice and failed to scan the donuts barcode, paying around £4 for the items instead of about £14.
A manager at Tesco later alerted police to reports of a “suspicious police officer at its store” and the matter was investigated, Thursday’s hearing in Peterborough was told.
Sharmistha Michaels, the legally-qualified chair of the disciplinary panel, said: “On the balance of probabilities we are satisfied that Pc Read did intentionally scan the wrong barcode.”
Read claimed he had not checked the screen of the self-service till, but CCTV showed him looking at it to select his method of payment, Michaels said.
The officer had stuck the carrots barcode to the donuts box, on the same side as its barcode, she said.
She added that if he intended to pay the correct price he could have checked that he scanned the right barcode.
If it was a “genuine mistake” he had opportunities to put it right, she said, including when his contactless payment failed and he had to use chip and pin instead.
The panel concluded that Read breached professional standards of honesty and integrity and that this amounted to gross misconduct.
Michaels said: “The officer’s behaviour has undermined public confidence in the police.”
She said Read’s actions were “incompatible with his role as a police officer” and he was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct.
Lawyer Mark Ley-Morgan, who set out the misconduct case, said it was “an officer effectively stealing while in uniform”.
“He was using his uniform as cover,” said Ley-Morgan.
Read has a right to appeal against the panel’s decision.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?