How was womanising Hatfield policeman allowed to work promoting female safety?

Sgt Ricki Vaughan at The Two Willows pub.

Flashback: Daniel Langhorne, landlord of The Two Willows; James Moatt, Community Safety Investigator from Herts Police; Sergeant Ricki Vaughan and Dennis Pennyfather, licensing officer for Welwyn Hatfield Council, launch the Pubwatch scheme. - Credit: Archant

A Hatfield policeman sacked over gross misconduct - involving sex-based activity and sexual comments about women he met in pubs - was directly involved in pub-based police projects to protect females.

Sgt Ricki Vaughan was dismissed without notice for sending “deplorably inappropriate” texts about a would-be work experience teenager he wanted to have sex with. He also had sex with a Welwyn pub landlady. Both of whom he met in a pub he had licensing responsibilities for in the course of his duty as a police officer.

He offered a junior colleague half a day off in exchange for getting the 18-year-old barmaid’s phone number under the premise of arranging time in the force control room but motivated at least partly by wanting to have sex with her.

An independent panel concluded he sent “sexual, crude and cynical” messages about her to a colleague and spoke about members of the public and colleagues in disrespectful discriminatory ways.

They found messages he sent directly to the teen were “a calculated ruse to get in contact with her … to gauge whether or not she was open to meeting for a potentially sexual encounter”.

It was decided that during his time with Hertfordshire Constabulary, Vaughan had engaged in a number of “wholly unacceptable” behaviours, since joining in 2003.

But this newspaper published a photo of the disgraced smiling cop in 2017, proudly beaming as he promoted a Welwyn Hatfield pub safety scheme. The community safety sergeant had joined a Pubwatch campaign to help kickstart it.

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A few months after, he appeared in the WHT again, as a key figure in launching the Ask for Angela initiative, which sought to protect women who feel unsafe in Welwyn Hatfield pubs by helping tackle sexual offences.

Yet in September this year, Vaughan faced misconduct allegations over abuse of power, for trying to use his police status to get close to women he met through work, and regularly spoke disrespectfully about women.

He was dumped from Herts Constabulary for breaching the Standard of Professional Behaviour, for forming and/or attempting to form relationships with members of the public, failing to treat people with courtesy and respect, discriminatory behaviour towards colleagues and speaking about women disrespectfully.

The panel heard how he had sex with a pub landlady and offered a junior colleague time off for obtaining a teenager’s phone number, quipping about the odds of having sex with her. And he messaged suggesting they meet for a chat, using the phrase: “I can either come to you or you to me, just confirm…”

On a separate charge, the panel ruled Vaughan attempted to form a relationship with her, that his interest was sexual, and he didn’t report it to his manager – breaching standards in relation to honesty, integrity, authority, respect and courtesy, orders and instructions and discreditable conduct.

Vaughan was described as “sad, lonely and desperate” since splitting from his long-term partner – who also works in the police - after accusing her of sleeping with his football team in front of their colleagues.

He was reported to leer out of office windows, making sexual comment, daily, on women passers-by saying, “I know what I would like to do to her.”

The panel, who expressed concern that nobody had previously ‘called him out’ on his behaviour found sacking him was the only way to gain public trust, stating that they had seen no evidence of reflection or humility.

(L-R) Vince Lampey, Licensing Officer, Hertsmere; Helena Heslin, Manager of the Two Willows; James M

Flashback: (L-R) Vince Lampey, Hertsmere licensing officer; Helena Heslin, manager of The Two Willows; James Moatt, Community Safety Investigator for Herts Police, Community Safety Sergeant Ricki Vaughan at the launch of Ask for Angela. - Credit: Herts Police

A spokeswoman from Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “We require the highest level of integrity and when someone fails to meet this, we take the appropriate action. If claims are made against any officers, a thorough investigation will be carried out by an independent force.

“Our vetting procedures are fully compliant with the Authorised Professional Practice and we continually review all process and performance through regular and robust governance.

“Being a police officer is a privilege. The abuse of power has no place within Hertfordshire Constabulary and we are committed to rooting out all misconduct where it is found.”