AN OFFICER accused of making offensive remarks said he had considered reporting the behaviour of his colleagues but was not sure whether he was 'being too sensitive', a police misconduct hearing has been told.

Trainee Detective Constable (TDC) Andrew Ferguson was said to have ‘mildly challenged’ comments made by members of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) North but did not report them.

TDC Ferguson joined SOCU in 2017 and said that on one occasion he was talking to Detective Constable Sol Koranteng – who is of Ghanaian heritage - about his age and another officer replied “he doesn’t know how old he is, it is whatever his passport says”.

Giving evidence at the Hampshire Constabulary tribunal, he said: “I thought it was racist. It made me question myself.”

The hearing was told that TDC Ferguson discussed the situation with another officer and considered “whether we were just being overly sensitive or cautious or even if we have misunderstood about what had happened”.

The father-of-two said that he “got close one day” to reporting the behaviour, clicking on the force's complaints service but did not follow through.

He said: "I didn’t have the courage to go and do what I should have done.

"It wasn’t something that went away. It was something that got worse in my head, my emotions, my mental health, my anxiety of what to do.

"I spoke to my family, spoke to two of my colleagues, when I took it out of the office it made it a lot more real – I felt I was getting there but not far enough."

TDC Ferguson, whose father formerly served in the constabulary, is facing gross misconduct charges for making comments of discriminatory nature or of an inappropriate or offensive nature, along with five other officers in the unit based at the Northern Police Investigation Centre, based in Basingstoke.

The other officers are Retired Detective Inspector Tim Ireson, Detective Sergeant Oliver Lage, Detective Sergeant Greg Willcox, former PC Craig Bannerman and PC James Oldfield.

In one incident he joked that a member of the public involved in an investigation was “f*****g mental”. The tribunal was told that the woman had mental health difficulties.

TDC Ferguson said: “This person was a hoarder of goods. Tens of packages delivered each day. The house was stacked.

“The person that lived in this house had some sort of mental instability."

He added: “Prior to this investigation I never understood mental health, but I very much do now.”

On another occasion TDC Ferguson used a lewd phrase which refers to the travelling community during a number of conversations including one about the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“I don’t use it often in my opinion, I had a slip of the tongue and I am ashamed of that but I have heard it said a number of times in Hampshire Constabulary in a lot of different locations. Nobody is perfect – we all make mistakes,” TDC Ferguson said.

The tribunal has been told that TDC Ferguson “grew to dislike” the unit and whether to report other officers’ behaviour caused him anxiety.

The remarks were discovered after a complaint was made and covert recordings of the office took place, along with an investigation into emails, text and WhatsApp messages between March 9 and April 2 2018.

The hearing will resume on December 14 when it is expected that a judgement will be made.