AN AVON and Somerset police officer has been sacked for gross misconduct after contacting a member of the public on social media while at work and sending them a text message exchange he had faked.

PC Simon Bidgood was found to have breached standards of professional behaviour including duties and responsibilities, honesty and integrity and discreditable conduct.

Some of the allegations related to his use of a website which generates fake text messages in order to dupe a member of the public.

He’d also initiated contact with the member of the public while he was on police duty.

Supt Simon Wilstead, head of professional standards, said: “PC Bidgood has been found to have acted dishonestly sending a message to a member of the public which included a faked text conversation between him and a third party.

“While this dishonesty did not relate to his policing duties and was not operational dishonesty any evidence that an officer is dishonest or lacks integrity is serious as it undermines trust and confidence in the police service.

“Other messages he sent following this to the same person were both unprofessional and offensive.

“We expect our officers and staff to uphold the values of the policing service at all times but it’s clear PC Bidgood’s behaviour has fallen below these high standards.”