Text scandal police chief keeps job

Chief Inspector Mark Ling
Chief Inspector Mark Ling

HASTINGS District Police commander Mark Ling is to return to work despite being found guilty of gross misconduct.

He received a final written warning at the end of a two-day hearing this week for sending ‘inappropriate and offensive’ texts.

This brings to a close his six-month suspension during an internal inquiry, following an allegation in June that he had sent an offensive text. It is understood the message contained a racist word. Sussex Police said more inappropriate and offensive texts came to light during the investigation.

While confirming Chief Inspector Ling will keep his job, the force would not say whether he will retain his rank or continue to work in Hastings.

A statement issued by Sussex Police said: “Following a two-day hearing, the officer was found guilty of gross misconduct for discreditable conduct and, as a result, he has received a final written warning. He will now return to duty and the force will consider the best position for him.”

Chief Insp Ling’s sister, Susan Keyte, said last month it would be her brother’s ‘dearest wish’ to keep his job as Hastings commander while speaking of the impact the inquiry has had on his health.

Yesterday (Thursday) she added: “On behalf of our family I would like to express our sincere thanks to the many people of Hastings who offered and given their support to Mark and his family during the last six months.”

Chie Insp Ling, a married father-of-two, was born and grew up in Hastings and took over the position of commander in 2008.

After this week’s hearing, Deputy Chief Constable Giles York said: “We take our duty to ensure the highest standards of behaviour and professionalism by our officers and staff very seriously and thoroughly investigated these matters.

“The officer failed to uphold the values the public and the force expect of all our people and disciplinary action has been taken against him.”

It also emerged this week that chief inspector Laurence Taylor, who has been acting Hastings commander since June, has been promoted to superintendent at Sussex Police headquarters, in the corporate development department, and will take up the role in the New Year.

He said: “There has been a lot of change in the district. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here and I am sad to be leaving although delighted of course, to be promoted.

“I will do everything to make sure the handover goes as seamlessly as possible.”

A further announcement about the Hastings District Commander role is expected today (Friday). It would be the third police chief for the town in three years if a new appointment is made.