A police officer has been dismissed after ignoring a woman’s suicide call and deciding to take a trip to Homebase to buy a mat for his new hot tub.
A disciplinary tribunal heard how PC Hankins, who had served with Devon and Cornwall Police for 27 years, breached professional standards set by the force.
He admitted the allegations, claiming his wife needed the hot tub following a ‘distressing medical episode’ in 2020.
Hankins drove three miles out of his designated patrol area to run the errand as an emergency call came through involving a young female in her teens suffering with her mental health.
He arrived at the scene ‘five to 10 minutes later’ than he would have done had he not made the journey.
The panel heard he advised the control room he would be available shortly to attend the emergency.
Instead he continued his trip to Homebase before attending to the incident later on.
His actions breached the standards of professional behaviour in respect of honesty and integrity, authority, respect and courtesy, discreditable conduct and duties and responsibilities.
While ‘no actual harm’ was done to the suicidal woman, the potential for harm was ‘considerable’.
The panel said his conduct was ‘deliberate, intentional, and planned’ because he ordered the mat for the hot tub at home the evening before he started his shift, and it was his aim to divert from his patrol in order to run the errand.
The report states: ‘He did not know of course that he would get a call to attend an emergency while on his way to Homebase to collect it but he had the opportunity to accept the call and attend to the person in distress.
‘Counsel for the officer described his client as having taken himself off duty in his mind but we find that to be an aggravating feature not a mitigating one.
‘Running an errand while on duty would, as admitted, have amounted to misconduct rather than gross misconduct but then to have continued on that course of action and told a deliberate lie to the control room in order to complete it is a different order of magnitude.
‘The dishonesty in telling the control room that he would be free to respond very shortly when in fact he was professionally available at the very moment he took the call is at the heart of this case.’
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