THE town’s top policeman has been suspended over allegations he sent an ‘offensive’ text message.
Chief Inspector Mark Ling, was told of the decision on Tuesday afternoon (June 7) as Sussex Police launched a misconduct investigation into the claims.
He has been stood down from his duties as Hastings District Commander for up to 20 days with Detective Chief Inspector Laurence Taylor drafted in to take charge while the disciplinary process runs its course.
Chief Inspector Ling, who was born and bred here in 1066 Country, has been widely praised for the way he has driven down the crime rate to a seven-year low since taking over in 2008, but he could be sacked if the allegations are proved to be true.
In a short statement released on Wednesday, a spokesman for Sussex Police said: “This was not a decision taken lightly, but the nature of the allegation – the sending of an offensive text message – was such that it was felt that the force needed to take immediate action pending an investigation. It should be stressed that the allegations are yet to be fully investigated and the suspension reflects only the force’s view of the seriousness of an allegation of this nature.”
He refused to be drawn on the exact nature of the text message but the Sussex Police statement of values says: “We will actively build a culture in our force which is overtly hostile to those who discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, skin colour, sexual orientation, disability, gender, age, social class or any other inappropriate factor.”
And a recent diversity report stated: “Staff at all levels must take responsibility and be accountable for promoting inclusive behaviour and challenging and confronting discrimination and inappropriate conduct.”
Amber Rudd MP was clearly shellshocked by the news. She said: “This is a great surprise – Chief Inspector Ling has done an excellent job for this town. I would rather not say anything else at this time.”
Chief Inspector Ling is a popular local figure and police colleagues are said to be stunned by this week’s developments. The Observer was unable to contact him for a comment before going to press yesterday.