A Bristol police special who shared ‘explicitly racist’ Facebook posts and joined groups calling for Islam to be banned has been sacked.
Chief Inspector Steven Drew, of Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s specials, shared posts telling people who don’t stand for the national anthem to ‘go back to the country you came from’.
He shared a picture which was captioned: “Isn’t it weird in Britain our flag offends so many people but our benefits don’t.”
Drew also liked a page called “Ban Islam and Sharia Law” and a page for the far-right political party Britain First.
A police misconduct hearing on Thursday, December 8 sacked Drew after deciding his behaviour was inappropriate, discriminatory and brought discredit on the force.
Speaking at the hearing, barrister Robert Talalay said Drew’s actions amounted to being ‘explicitly racist’.
But Drew, who has volunteered in the police for 20 years, told the panel he is ‘rubbish’ at Facebook and didn’t intend to come across racist.
“It makes me look an idiot,” he said. “It does make me look racist but that was never my intention.”
One picture shared by Drew showed a crowd at a sports event, thought to be in the United States, standing for the national anthem.
A woman, wearing a headscarf, was remained seated in the picture, which was captioned: “If you can’t stand for the national anthem go back to the country you came from.”
Drew said: “I probably didn’t even read the full caption, if I see stand for the national anthem I will share that.”
He said he is “really against people who can’t stand for the national anthem”, adding that he shares post if he looks at them and thinks ‘I agree with that’.
Drew claimed he only liked the page Ban Islam and Sharia Law because he thinks Sharia Law should be banned, but that he didn’t agree with banning Islam.
“It was just the second bit I liked,” he told the panel, led by independent chairman Alex Lock.
“I quickly looked and thought yes I agree with that.”
He also shared another post of a union jack which was captioned ‘Isn’t it weird in Britain our flag offends so many people but our benefits don’t’.
Another post showed a cartoon of school pupil complaining to a teacher that they were being bullied ‘because I’m British’.
Drew’s other ‘innocuous’ likes included Dad’s Army, Del Boy Trotter and Vladimir Putin.
He was represented at the hearing by Mark Loker, from the Police Federation.
Mr Loker said some of the content was ‘abhorrent’, but that the post about the child being bullied was ‘clearly intended as a joke’.
“He’s accepted what he’s done is wrong but he’s never intended to cause any offence,” he said.
Mr Loker said Drew “is not racist in any way, shape or form” but was “naïve”.
He said Drew’s policing area, which wasn’t specified at the hearing, is one of the ‘most ethnically diverse’ in Bristol.
He also said the fact Drew liked Britain First, which has repeatedly been accused of racism, was irrelevant.
“There’s nothing to stop us being a supporter of them so I don’t see how that’s relevant,” he said.
The allegations came to light after a member of the police who is friends with Drew on Facebook told bosses he had ‘posted messages with extreme right wing views’.
Barrister Mr Talalay said: “If he has shared an image which is put on his timeline it is indicative he has seen it and supports it. Why else would you share a post or photo?”
Drew also admitted to the panel he held some prejudices, but not against Muslims or immigrants.
When asked about the prejudices, he said: “I think people should work for a living and not sponge off the state if they are able to do so. Things like that.”