Two rookie police officers may be sacked over posts they made on social media in the wake of the Shoreham air disaster.
The unnamed staff, part-way through their two-year probationary period with Sussex police, must wait to discover the extent of their punishment following their conduct.
Police said a private online message was allegedly sent to a colleague about the force’s response to the disaster. The recipient immediately reported the incident and the two officers, based at Brighton and Hove, were put under investigation for gross misconduct by the Professional Standards Department and may now be told to leave the force.
Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said their actions undoubtedly caused distress to the victims’ families. A total of 11 people died when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet plummeted on to the A27 in West Sussex during the Shoreham airshow on 22 August.
Pinkney said: “I have considered the information presented to me in this case very carefully and I have assessed all of the available options to enable me to deal with this matter.
“I have decided that the most appropriate course of action is to use the Regulation 13 process which is specific to probationary officers and is in place to protect the public if officers demonstrate behaviours that show they are not suited to the job during their probationary period.
“Each officer will be required to attend a meeting with a chief officer who will look at the evidence and make a recommendation to the chief constable as to what should happen to the officers involved. I expect the process to be concluded within the next few weeks.
“A possible outcome is that the chief constable may decide that the officers leave the force.”
She said there was “sufficient evidence” that the two officers were unlikely to become “well conducted constables” upon completion of their probationary period.
The officers have not been suspended as police bosses want them to work to earn their pay while their conduct is investigated. However, they have been assigned duties away from public contact.
Pinkney said: “At Sussex police it’s OK to make a mistake and as an organisation we don’t punish people for making them honestly.
“However in this case I don’t believe this behaviour was an honest mistake, instead it was a deliberate choice to behave in a wholly disrespectful way. I would like to apologise again to the victims’ families for the unnecessary distress this has undoubtedly caused them.”
The inquest into the deaths was opened and adjourned at a hearing on 2 September . The full inquest was provisionally set for next June.