A “predator” police constable has been dismissed for “appalling” gross misconduct after being found guilty of “trying it on” with four vulnerable domestic abuse victims.
Married father-of-two Pc Colin Noble, who had been a serving officer with West Midlands Police for 20 years, claimed he only called one woman “fit” in a “ham-fisted” attempt at “boosting her confidence”, and had a particular “style” aimed at building rapport.
But he also looked at her breasts, asking to “see what you are working with”, suggested she “unbutton” her shirt, and inquired if she “had any nudes”.
Unknown to the experienced officer, he was secretly recorded by that complainant, known as Miss X, because of her concerns about his behaviour.
Audio of those conversations was played during a six-day disciplinary hearing at the force’s headquarters, which also heard evidence from the other complainants where he was alleged to have made a “catalogue of completely inappropriate comments” between 2014 and 2017.
A three-member panel found the case against the 50-year-old proven on Monday, stating they “preferred the account” of Miss X, and three other complainants, Miss A, B and C, over that of Noble.
Nick Hawkins, the legally qualified chairman giving the tribunal’s findings, said that, by contrast, they found the evidence given by Noble to be at times “inconsistent”, and in some cases “attempting to fit his explanations to known facts”.
Mr Hawkins added that the tribunal found “significant evidence of Pc Noble using sexualised talk and making inappropriate suggestions” to Miss X.
“The panel considered the improbability of the chances the four female witnesses, who had never met each other, nor seen each other’s statements, or knew of each other’s allegations, making such strikingly similar allegations,” he said.
“Either Pc Noble was extremely unfortunate in that (they) all invented allegations that were strikingly similar, or they are telling the truth and the similarities are because they reflect the way Pc Noble behaves with vulnerable victims of domestic violence.”
Mr Hawkins said: “The panel concluded the most likely explanation is they are telling the truth and the events happened as alleged.”
Graham Henson, Noble’s barrister, told the panel his client had a “long, unblemished record”; however, the tribunal decided the constable’s breaches of professional standards were so serious he should be dismissed without notice.
Mr Hawkins told Noble: “Your behaviour towards these women was totally unprofessional and inappropriate.
“Rather than offering assistance, you sought to further a relationship with each of the four women.”
He added: “The way you treated them was appalling.”
Mr Hawkins said Noble’s misconduct could only be described as “serious breaches”, adding the “only appropriate sanction that can be imposed on you today is of dismissal without notice”.
“That is the sanction we impose,” he added.
Noble has a right of appeal.
Giving findings of fact, the panel concluded that Noble had turned up at Miss A’s house unannounced up to 30 times, telling her she was “too pretty” for her boyfriend.
He also touched her neck, asking to see her tattoos, and whether he could see those on her thighs, and asked if she had “ever slept with a black man”.
The complainant, giving evidence, said Noble’s remarks made her feel “weird and sick” – adding: “It’s just not nice… you believe you can trust people but you can’t.”
Another complainant, Miss C, said she and Pc Noble had developed a “semi-relationship”.
The domestic abuse victim said the officer had asked her “How can you be single wearing those boots?” – referring to the thigh-high boots she had been wearing during a police interview.
Noble told her he could “get into trouble” for contacting her, but had also asked her out for a drink.
The fourth complainant, Miss B, whom the panel said they also found “honest and truthful”, said Noble had phoned her three times, to insist he needed to meet her at her home, alone.
Giving evidence, she described Noble as “being too pushy”, adding he “just wouldn’t lay off”, and in the end she lied about having moved away from the Midlands to stop his calls.
“It felt a little bit like the way my ex treated me, putting pressure on me, doing things I don’t want to,” she said.
Mr Hawkins said Miss B “had no reason to lie about her interactions”, which had happened some years ago, adding that “she told the panel she was giving evidence because it might help another woman get justice”.
Miss A, Miss B and Miss C all came forward to report Noble following publicity surrounding his criminal trial at Birmingham Crown Court in 2019, in which he was acquitted of a charge of misconduct in a public office in connection with the allegations made by Miss X.