Police officer who emailed attempted robbery victim to tell her she was ‘amazingly hot’ keeps his job

Photograph: Cory Doctorow / Flickr

A high-ranking policeman who previously served in Hackney has kept his job despite trying to seduce the victim of an attempted robbery.

Detective chief inspector James Mason, then a detective sergeant with Camden Police, told the woman he was “as determined in the pursuit of crime as he was of beautiful women”.

After taking her statement at Kentish Town police station in 2011, he emailed her the next day telling her she was “amazingly hot” and that he had “no shame and could get fired”.

At his misconduct hearing, DCI Mason claimed he only asked if the woman had a boyfriend when taking her statement out of concern for her support as a victim.

At the hearing’s conclusion on 6 October, the panel found DCI Mason’s behaviour was “gross misconduct” and barred him from promotion for three years.

Panel chair Christopher McKay said: “In attempting to establish an improper relationship with a victim of a crime, DCI Mason damaged the relationship of trust between police and the public. 

“[The victim] said in her witness statement she felt less trust in the police after this incident. Not long after she was deterred from calling the police because she feared she would not get the support she needed.

“The public interest in punishing this behaviour is high, this type of behaviour and more serious examples have been prominent in the media in the last few months. The panel is mindful of this.”

The panel chose not to punish DCI Mason more severely because of his remorse and “excellent service record”.

Mr McKay said: “The panel do not minimise the seriousness, however this was misconduct over an otherwise blameless career over 20 years.

“The delay in this matter is mainly due to the delay [in the woman] making a complaint to the Metropolitan Police. The issues arising currently are very topical but were much less so in 2011.”

DCI Mason’s other remarks include asking the woman what “outfit” she wore at work and if she “needed help” taking photographs of her wearing it, as well as inviting her to dinner the same evening she attended the police station.

DCI Mason started his career at Belgravia police station before working as a detective sergeant in Hackney. He currently serves in the Flying Squad, which specifically investigates robberies, but has also worked as a staff officer for Met commissioner Cressida Dick and in counter-terrorism.

He received a commendation in 2018 for “extraordinary leadership, professional resilience and dedication” after the Westminster terror attack, the hearing heard.

Ailsa Williamson, representing him at the hearing, said that when the same woman contacted him months later about an unrelated burglary, he dealt with her professionally.

She added: “He’s openly shown remorse, insight and accepted responsibility for his actions.

“It’s clear from statements that this is an officer who is deeply embarrassed by it, and any shame brought on the [Metropolitan Police] as a result of his actions.”

DCI Mason was given a final written warning, which will last three years, and will also remain at his current rank for at least three years, despite recently qualifying for a promotion.

After the hearing, detective chief superintendent Donna Smith said: “DCI Mason abused his position as a police officer and the victim’s trust. I want to thank the woman concerned for having the courage to come forward, it cannot have been easy for her.

“It is vital the public have confidence that, no matter how much time has passed, if they tell us about improper conduct by officers then we will support them and do all we can to investigate thoroughly and hold our officers to account.”