Former police detention officer sentenced over messages in support of UDA

Former police detention officer sentenced over messages in support of UDA

A FORMER police detention officer has been sentenced after posting social media messages in support of loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

William Loyd-Hughes, 27, a former employee of West Yorkshire Police (WYP), admitted posting grossly offensive messages on Twitter and showing support for a proscribed organisation.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court today, where he was given a community order to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and required to undergo rehabilitation.

He was also made to pay a £114 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

"The abhorrent attitudes and outlook displayed by this male as detailed in the court proceedings have no place in policing in West Yorkshire," said Detective Chief Superintendent Nicola Bryar, of WYP's Professional Standards Directorate.

'Racist and deeply offensive'

After Loyd-Hughes' social media posts were brought to the attention of WYP, the force made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The organisation then directed an investigation into the posts, which was carried out by Counter Terrorism Policing North East (CTPNE).

Among the posts reviewed was one with images of masked individuals holding firearms while wearing paramilitary gear, posing in front of UDA flags.

They were accompanied by a message showing support for the organisation, which is proscribed under the Terrorism Act.

The UDA was formed in 1971 but often carried out attacks on Catholics and republicans using the cover name the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

The latter was proscribed in 1973 but the UDA was not banned by the British Government until 1992.

Another of the posts on the same Twitter account shared a racist message alongside a video of people dancing and contained a slur used to refer to Black people.

In a reply to his own post, Loyd-Hughes used a hashtag implying support for killing Black people.

"The racist and deeply offensive views shared by Loyd-Hughes on his Twitter account are dangerous, vile and have absolutely no place in policing — or society as a whole," said IOPC Regional Director Emily Barry.

"His shocking actions could not be further from the standards expected of a police employee, and are a total betrayal of not only public trust, but that of his colleagues too."

She added: "This serves as a clear message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated and those who think they can hide behind anonymous accounts to share disgusting messages like these should expect to be found out and be held accountable for their actions."

'Zero tolerance'

At the time the offences were committed in August and September 2022, Loyd-Hughes was a serving member of police staff based at Huddersfield Police Station.

Although he has since resigned, the IOPC determined that he had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

Following today's sentencing, WYP confirmed that misconduct proceedings will now resume.

"West Yorkshire Police has signed up to the Police Race Action Plan and takes a zero-tolerance approach to any use of racist language by our officers, staff or volunteers," said DCS Bryar.

"We also make it clear that being a member of a proscribed organisation is prohibited if you are a police employee."