A police officer on duty who unfairly scanned a seven pence barcode for carrots to get a £ 9.95 box of Krispy Kreme donuts has been fired for gross misconduct.
PC Simon Read claimed in a disciplinary hearing that he had made an honest mistake at the self-service checkouts at Tesco Extra in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, but a panel ruled his explanation “lacked credibility”.
The Cambridgeshire police officer was in uniform when he bought four items from the shop on February 10 this year – the tray of 12 donuts, the carrots, a sandwich and a drink.
He scanned the carrots ‘barcode twice and failed to scan the donuts’ barcode. He paid about £ 4 for the items instead of about £ 14.
A manager at Tesco later warned police of reports of a “suspected police officer in his shop,” and the case was under investigation, it was told Thursday at the Peterborough hearing.
Sharmistha Michaels, the legally qualified chair of the disciplinary panel, said, “On the basis of probability, we are confident that Pc Read willfully scanned the wrong barcode.”
PC Read claimed he had just checked the self-service screen, but CCTV showed him looking at it to select his payment method, Ms. Michaels said.
The officer had pasted the carrots’ barcode onto the donut box on the same side as the barcode, she said.
She added that if he intended to pay the correct price, he could have checked that he scanned the correct barcode.
If it was a “real mistake,” he had a chance to rectify it, she said, even when his contactless payment failed and he had to use chip and pin instead.
The panel concluded that PC Read violated professional standards of honesty and integrity and that this amounted to gross misconduct.
Ms. Michaels said, “The officer’s behavior has undermined public confidence in the police.”
She said Pc Read’s actions were “incompatible with his role as a police officer” and that he was fired without notice for gross misconduct.
Attorney Mark Ley-Morgan, explaining the misconduct case, said it was “an officer who is effectively stealing while in uniform.”
“He used his uniform as a cover,” said Mr. Ley-Morgan.
“Who would mistrust a cop?”
Carolina Bracken, Pc Read’s attorney, said he had a “flawless career” before the incident and was involved in Donald Trump’s visit to Blenheim Palace and several royal weddings while serving with the Thames Valley Police from 2008 onwards.
He was one of the agents involved in the case of Pc Andrew Harper, who was towed to his death by a getaway car in Berkshire in 2019, she added.
He previously served in the armed forces and joined the Cambridgeshire Police Department in January this year.
Ms. Bracken said the case weighed heavily on Pc Read and that he had received jokes at night from people offering him donuts.
Pc Read has the right to appeal against the panel’s decision.