A CONWY man who said he was accused of being a “pervert” after he was alleged to have filmed young females while working for North Wales Police (NWP) has lost four claims at an employment tribunal.

John Richards’ claims against NWP of victimisation, discrimination arising out of disability, unfair dismissal, and unlawful deduction from wages, were dismissed.

He was notified of his dismissal in late 2021 due to the “irretrievable breakdown” in his relationship with the force, though the accusations regarding his alleged misconduct were dropped in 2019.

The tribunal heard Mr Richards, who started working for NWP in 1983, became a camera enforcement officer with GoSafe, which works in partnership with the force to reduce road casualties, in July 2018.

In May 2019, he started working under a new supervisor, Police Sergeant Melanie Brace, but a “degree of tension” soon emerged between them.

PS Brace was advised the following October to look at video footage Mr Richards had taken while on duty, which were alleged to be recordings of people, particularly young females, near schools.

She sent the footage to NWP’s Professional Standards Department, and in November 2019, Mr Richards was served with misconduct papers.

These stated: “Following a review of speeding offences captured by yourself using a GoSafe camera, a dip sample has been undertaken.

“This dip sample found multiple instances where the camera has been deliberately moved from the field of relevance which is the road, and the vehicles thereon, to the footway.

“A prolonged focus has been made on a number of female pedestrians, some of them dressed in school uniform, and almost all of them could be said to be teenagers or young women.”

Mr Richards said he was “sick” and “shocked” at receiving these papers, and felt “like a leper” in the days which followed.

He felt the footage appeared “heavily edited”, saying he would often film the “context” immediately before or after a speeding offence, which had proved successful previously.

No training had been given to him on how or what to film, he added.

In December 2019, Mr Richards was informed the misconduct accusations had been dropped following further review of the footage.

It was felt he had “captured a wide range of individuals as supporting evidence for speeding offences”, and did not show a “propensity to solely focus on young females”.

Though, in January 2020, Mr Richards, having not yet returned to work, wrote a letter to Alison Jones, head of human resources, stating he had “no faith or trust whatsoever” in PS Brace as his line manager, believing she had a “dislike for him”.

Mr Richards’ wife also emailed her soon after, saying he was becoming “more bitter with the nature of the allegation and the behaviour towards him by a supervisor, and the lack of answers to reasonable questions”.

In May, Ms Jones apologised to him for the time it was taking to compile a response; by then, Mr Richards said, he had “very little faith” left in NWP.

On October 21, 2020, Temporary Chief Superintendent Simon Williams provided his final report to Mr Richards - he found no evidence of harassing, bullying or discriminatory behaviour by PS Brace against him, adding her actions had been “appropriately justified”.

While Mr Richards was exonerated, Mr Williams said this did not mean PS Brace had acted inappropriately by making the initial referral.

Mr Richards sent a complaint to the Professional Standards Department in December 2020, alleging incidents of bullying, harassment and discriminatory behaviour by PS Brace.

He labelled PS Brace’s referral “inappropriate and malicious” and said it led to him being accused of being a “pervert”.

The following February, Mr Richards sent a complaint to the Police and Crime Commissioner, stating he did not feel “safe” returning to work as he “does not have any answers,” and felt close to resigning and claiming for constructive dismissal.

On May 4, 2021, Mr Richards was diagnosed with autism, and at a panel hearing later that year, he was asked numerous questions, including “why would you think an autistic person could not follow the code of ethics?”.

Though, this choice of language was later accepted as being “careless”.

The panel chairing the hearing concluded Mr Richards’ relationship with NWP had “irretrievably broken down” to a state “too serious to be addressed by adjustments,” and the force had no option but to dismiss him.

Mr Richards appealed against his dismissal on December 21, 2021, claiming none of the panel was trained in autism or neurodiversity, so lacked the expertise to understand the impact of his diagnosis.

But his appeal was unsuccessful, with the deputy chief constable finding the process adopted for the panel hearing which led to his dismissal was fair.

Employment Judge Davies, chairing the employment tribunal, concluded: “Sadly, this is a case in which the claimant was determined that PS Brace should face professional sanctions for what he perceived as the unwarranted and malicious referral to PSD, and the failure of the respondents to think like himself and to take action.

“The summary of the claimant’s case stems from three things – PS Brace’s conduct towards him in late 2019, his decision to complain about her conduct, and the respondent’s reaction to his complaints that led to him being prevented from returning to his role, put on garden leave and then dismissed – is unfortunately a wrong analysis of the situation.

“The decision to dismiss the claimant was reasonable in all the circumstances.”