A group of South Yorkshire police officers in the UK has taken abuse of power to new heights by using department helicopters to film people who were naked or having sex hundreds of feet below, recent reports allege. The men are being charged with misconduct in public office, and in a court hearing yesterday, they all denied the charges against them.
The accused group includes two active police officers, 41-year-old Matthew Lucas and 46-year-old Lee Walls, as well as a retired police officer, Adrian Pogmore, and a pilot, Matthew Loosemore. They were arrested in early May following a department investigation into reports of a police helicopter being used for nefarious means in incidents that took place between 2007 and 2012. Another man, retired South Yorkshire pilot Malcolm Reeves, was also arrested in early May but did not appear in court for yesterday's hearing.
Few details are available about the police officers' alleged vertiginous voyeurism. According to local news outlet the Yorkshire Post, Pogmore has been charged with misconduct "namely to observe and record a naked person without her knowledge and consent." Another of Pogmore's charges alleges he was "misusing police resources for purposes that were not connected to your employment, namely to observe and record persons performing sexual acts." All of the men have been granted bail and are set to stand trial in July 2017 in Sheffield.
This is not the first scandal to hit the South Yorkshire Police Department. The organization was recently accused of "serious failings" and being "seriously under-resourced" in a "damning" independent report that found at least 1400 young girls had been systematically sexually abused in the South Yorkshire town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2003. "The callous attitude that senior officers displayed towards the young victims is extraordinary," said BBC social affairs correspondent Michael Buchanan in an analysis of the case published by the BBC. "Faced with allegations that children were being drugged, raped, abused and trafficked, they decided to do nothing."
After the helicopter watcher arrests in early May, the South Yorkshire Police Department confirmed that Lucas and Walls are currently suspended from duty. The police department declined Broadly's request for comment on this piece.