A gross misconduct hearing has found a former West Mercia Police officer would have been dismissed from the force had he not already resigned.

The hearing, which took place earlier today (Tuesday 9 May), upheld an allegation that the conduct of former PC Mark Hidden, 42, amounted to serious breaches of Standards of Professional Behaviour.

Between December 2019 and April 2020, the former PC, who was previously based in Shropshire, pursued an improper relationship with a vulnerable person he had met through the course of his duties and engaged in sexual activity with whilst on duty.

In November 2019 he searched and accessed personal data on police systems without a genuine policing purpose and on two occasions in April 2020 he breached COVID restrictions without a genuine policing purpose. The breaches related to his improper relationship.

Between January 2020 and May 2020, he used his work mobile phone to send and receive messages of a sexual nature primarily whilst on duty.

The hearing found his actions breached the standards of authority, respect, and courtesy; confidentiality; orders and instruction; and discreditable conduct.

An investigation was immediately launched when the matter came to light in May 2020.  He was subsequently suspended and in 2022 he resigned from the force.

Deputy Chief Constable Alex Murray said:

“This officer let the victim and the public down.  It is simply not acceptable in any way. Further it has seriously undermined the hard work most officers and staff carry out daily to protect people from harm.

“We make no apology that we have pursued gross misconduct procedures despite him previously resigning from the force. It is only right the public see the actions we will take against those who have no place in policing.

“Building trust and confidence in the police service is as important now as it has ever been; the public must have confidence police officers will not abuse their position for any purpose including forming inappropriate relationships with people when they are at their most vulnerable.

“This action demonstrates we are committed to improving the professionalism of West Mercia Police.

“That commitment will continue and is driven by our Chief Constable Pippa Mills.”

Mark Hidden will now be added to the College of Policing’s Barred List banning him from working for a UK police service in the future.

The outcome of the hearing is subject to the normal appeals process.