The Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched an inquiry after a senior Sussex Police officer was accused of racially abusing an Eastbourne taxi driver. The watchdog is investigating two officers following claims the senior of the two made racist and offensive remarks to the driver, who subsequently complained to the force.
The off-duty officers reportedly became confrontational and argued with two different taxi drivers on 5 September. One is alleged to have threatened to have the taxi licence removed from one of them. Subsequent inquiries by Sussex Police showed one of them accessed a police IT system in relation to the incident, reportedly without lawful purpose.
The IPCC is considering possible public order offences for the senior officer, while the other officer faces potential charges under the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act. He is also under investigation for failing to adequately challenge and report the improper conduct of the other officer.
Sussex Police has suspended the senior officer for the duration of the investigation into allegations of racist and offensive behaviour. IPCC Commissioner Jennifer Izekor said: "That a senior officer has been accused of such serious and criminal misconduct in a public setting, and racist behaviour towards a member of the public, is of significant concern and it is therefore appropriate that the IPCC provides independent oversight of this investigation."
Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said: "We take any report of racism very seriously, along with any inappropriate access to police IT systems, and we will co-operate with the IPCC in their investigation. Sussex Police cares about developing and has invested in building its relationship with BME communities, through its neighbourhood policing teams and support from an independent race advisory group. We remain fully committed to providing a fair and non-discriminatory policing service to our communities."