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Police officer who engaged in relationship with domestic abuse victim jailed

A police officer who engaged in “flirtatious and sexualised” relationship with a vulnerable woman he met during his duties has been jailed.

James Ankrett, 40, sent “provocative selfies” of himself in bed to the victim, who he became involved with after attending an incident at her home in the summer of 2017.

He also used the police computer database to find out more about the woman and visited her home in uniform where he kissed her.

The 40-year-old, who served as a front line officer for West Midlands Police for 20 years, was charged following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Ankrett from Hednesford, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to corrupt or other improper exercise of police powers on the second day of his trial last month.

He was dismissed following a police misconduct hearing last Thursday and was jailed for five months at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Monday.

Sentencing, Judge Christopher Millington QC, said: “These events start on July 7 2017, when you responded to a 999 call to a woman who was having difficulty with her son.

“When you arrived she was in a distressed state and vulnerable. You escorted her in the garden and you behaved in over familiar way.

“It is clear you quickly developed a sexual attraction to her and provided her with a personal phone number.

“Between July 8 and July 17 you sent a series a flirtatious and sexualised messages to her of you posing in bed, and she sent provocative images back.

“You also logged on police websites to find out more about her. You visited her house, in uniform, and kissing took place while her daughter was upstairs.

“You did visit the [victim’s son’s] school to reassure them about the home visit in early July - which alerted the police to this relationship.”

Ankrett was dismissed last week at an accelerated misconduct hearing, having been suspended from duty after pleading guilty.

The former force response officer was previously restricted from duties and worked in a non-public facing role.

IOPC regional director for the West Midlands, Derrick Campbell, said: “Cases where officers abuse their position for sexual purposes are among the most serious examples of corruption that we investigate.

“The public has a right to expect police officers to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism, and that those who fail to do so will be investigated and dealt with robustly.”

Mr Campbell added: “Police are taught to maintain professional boundaries between themselves and members of the public, who are often in vulnerable situations when they come into contact with officers. Pc Ankrett now has a criminal conviction to his name and has paid a heavy price for stepping over that boundary.

“We would like to reiterate to police officers and staff, current or former, that we have a whistleblowing line for police officers and staff to report concerns of wrongdoing where they believe a criminal offence has been committed, or evidence of conduct that would justify disciplinary proceedings.”

West Midlands Police Chief Constable Sir David Thompson, who chaired the disciplinary hearing, said that “officers like this have no place in West Midlands Police”.

Additional reporting by agencies