Police inspector accused of 14-year sexual harassment campaign against female colleagues

Detective Inspector Simon Hurwood ‘pressured women into sex’ and was ‘obsessed’ with colour of their underwear

Tim Wyatt
Monday 29 October 2018 19:17
Detective Inspector Simon Hurwood, who has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct at work
Detective Inspector Simon Hurwood, who has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct at work

A police inspector coerced dozens of female coworkers into sex during a 14-year campaign of sexual harassment and bullying, a disciplinary hearing has heard.

Detective Inspector Simon Hurwood, who worked for Cleveland Police for 27 years, is said to have groomed more than 20 women in the force into sending him explicit photos and videos and pressuring them into having sex with him, sometimes in police vehicles and stations.

The married Mr Hurwood was “obsessed” with the colour of his female colleague’s underwear, the hearing in Middlesbrough on Monday heard.

Mr Hurwood resigned last month and did not attend the hearing.

The allegations first came to light earlier this year when an anonymous email was sent to Cleveland Police’s counter-corruption unit in January. Despite being arrested in March after an investigation, he will not face criminal charges due to lack of evidence.

For some of the time while under investigation Mr Hurwood himself worked for the police force’s professional standards department.

A string of women reported that Mr Hurwood would abuse his rank and position in pursuing them and demanding sexual favours.

John Beggs, appearing for the chief constable, told the hearing that one complainant, known only as Witness A, had described how Mr Hurwood said he would pretend to rape her.

“When we do have sex it will be as if I was gonna rape you because that’s what girls like,” he is alleged to have said to the woman. He later coerced her into performing sex acts with him repeatedly, including inside a police vehicle and in an office at work.

Other women said Mr Hurwood would bombard them with text messages and attention until they felt unable to resist the advances of the older and more powerful man.

One reported the senior police officer had sent her messages with crude and graphic demands. One read: “When you gonna let me f*** you?”

Witness H said Mr Hurwood would demand she send him videos of her naked in the toilet or the bath, which left her feeling “prostituted” and dirty.

A further woman, Witness I, said the detective inspector groped her in the office, rubbed himself against her and told her he had sexual fantasies about schoolgirls and headmasters.

A total of 21 potential victims were identified by Cleveland Police during its internal investigation, dating to back to 2004.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Mr Hurwood has denied many of the allegations, although he has admitted having a sexual relationship off duty with one of the complainants.

“The only mistake I have made is helping the majority [of the women] at some of the most difficult times in their lives,” Mr Hurwood was said to have responded when asked about the allegations. “Most of them are lying.”

Mr Beggs said the public did not expect police officers to have sex on duty or in police premises.

Even if Mr Hurwood’s claims all sexual contact and messaging was consensual were true, “he knew or reasonably would have known he was achieving sexual relationships and gratifications because of his rank and status”, Mr Beggs said.

Cleveland Police said Mr Hurwood, who was suspended from duty in March and resigned in September, does not “challenge or directly dispute” the evidence brought forward to the misconduct hearing.

The chair of the disciplinary panel, Simon Mallett, adjourned the hearing until Tuesday afternoon, when he would make his conclusion on the case.