Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pc visited red light area on duty

Greater Manchester Police vest
Bowen had three commendations in his 26-year police career

A police officer who neglected his duties in order to indulge in an "unhealthy interest" in prostitutes has been given a conditional discharge.

Robert Bowen, 45, who was a traffic officer, ignored an emergency call and instead visited a red light district, Warrington Crown Court heard.

Bowen admitted one count of misconduct in public office.

He has now left his 26-year career with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) during which he had won three commendations.

Judge Thomas Teague QC agreed that Bowen had suffered enough and gave him a two year conditional discharge.

He potentially put the lives of members of the public at risk and also those of his colleagues
Det Insp Martin Reddington, GMP

The judge said: "Your neglect of your duties on this occasion was not as a result of cowardice but from a disinterest to get involved on a busy shift.

"It was an isolated lapse in a long and, in my view, otherwise exemplary career."

Maria Masselis, prosecuting, said the officer's behaviour had aroused the suspicion of colleagues and he was placed under surveillance by GMP's Professional Standards Branch.

Ms Masselis told the judge: "This allegation relates to Bowen's neglect of his duties in favour of an unhealthy interest in sex workers."

Between February and August last year Bowen, who was based at Whitefield Police station, was followed 19 times by undercover officers as he carried out his duties.

A patrol car he regularly used was covertly bugged with video and audio recording equipment, Ms Masselis said.

On 7 July surveillance officers watched and listened as Bowen ignored an emergency call out to a serious fight at a take away in Manchester city centre.

Force understaffed

Ms Masselis said earlier that day a memorial service to former GMP Chief Constable Michael Todd had been held and and city centre policing was understaffed that night.

The prosecutor said it was classed as an incident requiring immediate response from patrols.

Although Bowen was the nearest available officer - surveillance showed he was in the city's red light district.

Bernadette Baxter, defending described the offence as an "isolated moment".

She said: "The reality is that this offence represents 28 minutes."

During his career he received the chief constable's commendation and two chief superintendent's commendations for going beyond the call of duty, added Ms Baxter.

Det Insp Martin Reddington, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "As a result of PC Bowen pleading guilty prior to the trial, and further offences being allowed to lie on file, the full extent of his misconduct and the truth of why he neglected his duties to patrol the red light district will never be known.

"This serious neglect of duty could have had devastating consequences as he potentially put the lives of members of the public at risk and also those of his colleagues, who had to rush to the scene from other parts of Manchester, delaying our response and leaving the areas those other patrols were supposed to be looking after vulnerable."

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