A CRIMINAL investigation has been launched into allegations of ‘serious sexual offences’ against Devon and Cornwall’s suspended Chief Constable Will Kerr.

The Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (PONI) has this evening, Wednesday, confirmed it has begun a criminal investigation.

Chief Constable Kerr has denied all allegations.

There are two separate investigations – a criminal one which is being conducted by PONI. And one by the IOPC (the Independent Office for Police Conduct) which relates specifically to misconduct allegations.

In a statement a PONI spokesperson said: ‘The Police Ombudsman commenced a criminal investigation into serious allegations of sexual offences against a former PSNI senior officer, currently the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, on 16 June 2023, using her 'own motion'* powers.

‘The Ombudsman will also consider the circumstances under which the allegations were investigated by PSNI.

‘The Office has been engaging with the IOPC on cross-jurisdictional issues in recent weeks, as well as with the office of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner.

‘Details concerning the precise nature of the allegations and any early investigative actions remain confidential at this time.

‘Independence and impartiality are central to all Police Ombudsman investigations and the Office will be robust in following the evidence to ensure that any police officer in breach of the law and who abuses their position of trust will be held to account.

‘As the investigation is at an early stage, it is not possible to confirm a likely timeframe for its conclusion.’

Earlier today Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, announced she had suspended the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Will Kerr OBE KPM, following allegations of misconduct.

‘The Commissioner has referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which has confirmed it will commence an investigation.’

An IOPC spokesperson said: 'The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct against the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Will Kerr.

'This follows a referral we received from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall. 

'Our investigation will consider whether Mr Kerr may have breached police professional standards relating to serious criminal allegations currently under investigation by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI). 

'We are also investigating whether inaccurate information may have been provided as part of a previous vetting process.

'We are working closely with PONI and will provide updates when we can. '

Chief Constable Kerr joined the Force as Chief Constable in December 2022 with experience gained from over 30 years of policing, much of it working at a senior level in different organisations across the UK.