An Essex Police officer has been dismissed from the force after "sexually assaulting" a female member of police staff while he was on duty.

David Hiscock twice sexually touched his victim’s bottom and attempted to initiate sexually suggestive conversations with his victim, referred to as Ms Z to protect her identity, on multiple occasions via WhatsApp, a misconduct hearing was told.

Hiscock, who already had an unexpired five-year written warning for similar proven gross misconduct, was dismissed without notice following the latest hearing on February 6.

The hearing heard the former police constable was unable to recognise that his attraction to Ms Z was not reciprocated and failed to consider the significant power imbalance in his status as a senior officer, given Hiscock had 20 years of service with Essex Police.

The hearing said his length of employment reflected “a power imbalance between them”.

It added Hiscock was an “experienced officer who should have recognised his behaviour was motivated by his own emotional and sexual needs, and that he was acting for his own gratification”.

Misconduct hearing chair BJ Harrington, chief constable of Essex Police, said that messages started “in a quite friendly and endearing way” but Hiscock shifted them toward a “personal and sexual tone”.

He said the exchanges between Hiscock and Ms Z were not appropriate and the standard of discreditable conduct was breached but were not themselves gross misconduct.

However the sexual touching “was wrong and constituted a sexual assault”. Hiscock’s conduct was considered to be gross misconduct.

In his report dated February 6, he added: “It is my assessment that there is serious harm caused by PC Hiscock’s gross misconduct as there is clear emotional harm and distress caused to Ms Z as a victim of sexual assault. The behaviour undermines the mutual trust between colleagues within Essex Police which needs to be promoted and encourage the confidence of women within the organisation.

“There is also harm to public confidence in policing from PC Hiscock’s behaviour and could lead to members of the public losing trust and confidence in Essex Police. This is particularly true for female members of the public, who might be considering making a complaint to the police and deterred if the suspected officers were capable of this action.”

Hiscock was added to the College of Policing’s barred list.

Chief constable Harrington added: “It is essential that through any outcome I prevent harm to the public, officers, and staff and to the trust and confidence in policing. The proven allegations against PC Hiscock demonstrate he is a risk to colleagues and the public and his behaviour seriously risks harming trust and confidence in Essex Police and the police service more widely. Any outcome must protect against these.

“I must in my outcome be clear to officers that all the proven conduct in this case will not be tolerated. Equally, I must demonstrate to the public that we will not tolerate such gross misconduct and it will be treated seriously with robust outcomes for gross misconduct.”