Published: 19 January, 2016
By WILLIAM McLENNAN
A POLICE officer has been fired after he unlawfully confiscated a drunk driver’s car keys and then lied to colleagues to cover his tracks.
Paul Gibbs, 34, was called to Gray’s Inn Road at around 6am to reports of a group of men drinking alcohol in the street and disturbing residents, a disciplinary panel heard on Monday.
The officer found four men, who were all drunk, gathered around a Mini Cooper, with no keys in the ignition. He then searched the vehicle and seized the keys, which he found under the driver’s seat, and returned to Kentish Town police station, leaving the keys in his locker and clocking off.
When the owner of the vehicle requested that his keys were returned, later that day, Mr Gibbs told colleagues that “there were no car keys taken from anybody and none seen at the scene”, the panel heard.
The driver’s house keys were also on the keyring, the panel heard, and the vehicle was towed at a cost of £500.
A misconduct investigation was launched and Mr Gibbs admitted taking the keys, but claimed not to have lied to colleagues until confronted with recorded evidence of the exchange, which took place on police radio.
“The officer eventually admitted that he told this lie because he knew he didn’t have any grounds to take the keys. He was therefore covering his own back,” Daniel Hobbs, on behalf of the Met police, told the panel in a written submission.
At an earlier misconduct meeting, Mr Gibbs admitted he had no grounds to seize the keys and was issued a written warning.
Returning a decision to dismiss Mr Gibbs, panel chairman, Muzamil Khan, said that, while the seizing of the keys showed “poor judgement”, the subsequent dishonesty “demonstrated behaviour that is not compatible with his role as a police officer”.