A white detective chief inspector has been fired for calling a black colleague a ‘choc ice’ after they asked to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stewart Miller stormed out of the misconduct hearing in Goole, East Yorkshire, as the judgment was handed down, followed by his wife who was in tears.
On June 8 the officer, who is trained in counterterrorism and kidnap, was asked if a lower ranking colleague could work from home due to concerns his ethnicity was more susceptible to the virus.
DCI Miller said: ‘He isn’t fat or diabetic and has a good job so doesn’t fit in to the category. In fact, he is as close to white as he can be. In fact, he’s a choc ice.
‘He is probably more white and middle class than I am’.
The comment was made next to the Major Incident Room at Birchin Way Police Station in Grimsby, Lincs, when DCI Miller was in charge of masterminding the police response to the pandemic.
The black officer’s wife had raised fears about whether her husband should be shielding as a vulnerable member of the BAME community.
She was concerned about him and the risk of the virus being passed on to their sons. When a colleague approached his superior for guidance, he replied with the racist outburst.
The more junior officer later decided to report what had happened and DCI Miller was interviewed by professional standards.
The hearing was told he ‘was horrified’ to learn what his ‘off the cuff remark’ meant.
He said he only realised when he went onto Google that a Choc Ice is a term used by one black person to another to refer to someone who has betrayed their heritage.
DCI Miller claimed he was ‘shocked’ when he was confronted about his remarks. He said it was ‘an error of judgement because of a lack of knowledge’ about what the words meant.
He told the hearing: ‘I would not use those words again with the knowledge I now have.’
But panel chairman Simon Mallett ruled that the officer’s claims that he did not know the phrase was racist was no defence.
He continued: ‘In a couple of sentences he made two offensive comments. The use of racist language is serious. The use of it by a senior officer is even more serious.
‘It is incredibly damaging to public perception of the police. It damages race relations locally when there are national concerns about the policing of black communities.
‘The conduct is so serious it justifies dismissal. It constitutes gross misconduct.’
Olivia Checa-Dover, for the force, argued: ‘The only outcome capable of maintaining public confidence in the police is dismissal without notice. Police forces wish to recruit officers who represent communities they serve.
‘The scale and depth of national concern about racial stereotypes is a significant aggravating feature.’
DCI Miller did not initially accept he had breached standards, she added. She also revealed he had received a disciplinary sanction in February this year for two matters of disreputable conduct.
Demotion was not an option. ‘There is no room for racism in any rank,’ she added.
Mr Mallett said DCI Miller was an ‘exceptional officer who had led serious and major investigations’ during his 21 years or service.
The panel had considered demotion and a final written warning but said:
‘In our view, public confidence in, and the reputation of, the force can only be maintained by the immediate dismissal of this officer.’
The panel issued a direction that the only officer in the case who can be identified was DCI Miller.