A serving British Transport Police (BTP) officer has been sentenced after being convicted of attempting sexual communication with a child, following an investigation by BTP’s Professional Standards Department.
Police Sergeant James Chatfield, 36, based in London, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 18 November.
On 14 December, a judge at Inner London Crown Court sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months and handed him a seven-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).
Chatfield was dismissed from the force without notice following an accelerated misconduct hearing on Monday 9 Janaury.
The court heard that on 23 and 26 September 2022 Chatfield was using Snapchat and Chat Avenue when he began conversations with what he believed to be a 12-year-old girl, posing as a 17-year-old boy.
He went on to ask her to send intimate photos of herself to him.
The person he was talking to was actually an undercover police officer from South Wales Police who reported the incidents to BTP’s Professional Standards Department, after enquiries on his IP address revealed he was a police officer. He was then swiftly arrested and interviewed by BTP detectives.
Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Sutherland said:“As police officers it is our overriding duty to protect the public and particularly the vulnerable from harm, so it is profoundly disturbing to know that a serving officer could ever consider exploiting a child for their own sexual gain.
“I speak for everyone at British Transport Police when I say we are all truly shocked and appalled by the actions of James Chatfield. He does not represent our values and his fast track disciplinary proceedings will be taking place as soon as practicably possible in the New Year.
“It is thanks to the swift and thorough investigation by our Professional Standards Department, working with South Wales Police, that Chatfield was arrested, charged, and sentenced within less than three months of these abhorrent offences.
Detective Inspector Mathew Davies, of Tarian, the regional organise crime unit for southern Wales, said: “We will proactively pursue anyone who has a sexualised interest in children, irrespective of their profession. This case was particularly concerning as Chatfield posed as a 17-year-old boy, within a teen chat group and had actively targeted a girl he believed was 12 years old.
“At Tarian ROCU, we have specialist officers who work tirelessly protect children online as well as target those perpetrators, such as Chatfield.
“It is our absolute priority to protect and keep children safe in our communities irrelevant of who or where that threat comes from. Law enforcement operates across the internet and we will relentlessly seek to bring to justice individuals who use the web to facilitate the abuse of children."