A police force apologised as it revealed for the first time that four officers had been disciplined over an alleged campaign of harassment against a young woman after she ended a relationship with one of them.
Katie Bowman, 24, said she was stopped more than 70 times by officers over more than two years after reporting that her former boyfriend, PC Alexander Ash, took her number from her written statement to begin their relationship.
Miss Bowman, a forensic science graduate never convicted of a crime, says the trouble started after she ended the relationship when she discovered that he was seeing someone else. She said police compiled dozens of intelligence reports about her that prevented her from her securing jobs, that her car was seized more than six times and that she was taken to court twice for careless driving – and twice cleared.
Thames Valley Police yesterday offered “sincere apologies” after the case was revealed last week by Private Eye.
It said yesterday that two officers, including PC Ash, were fined and reprimanded in 2008 and two others were given the lowest form of disciplinary action the following year for incivility and “irregular procedure”, after Ms Bowman was stopped again .
Police claimed PC Ash could have faced the sack if the case was heard today. “These officers behaved in a totally unacceptable way,” said Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood. “It is essential that the people we serve can have absolute trust and confidence in us to conduct ourselves with integrity and professionalism at all times. It would appear that in this case the conduct of a few officers has fallen short of this and for that I offer my sincere apologies.”
Miss Bowman claimed that PC Ash pulled over her car after she made the complaints and said that he could make her “life hell” for reporting him. He claimed this week that he never had a relationship with her, and that she had an obsession with the police.
But her father, Brian Bowman, told the BBC: “They have a gang mentality and part of Katie’s problem was she complained and then the gang banded round to support itself.”