Hampshire Police chief Special Officer dismissed for using the term “pikeys”, in a WhatsApp messaging. Tribunal hears that he had used the Dutch word “pikken” meaning steal to describe his dismissal.

  • Chief Special Officer of Hampshire Police is fired for posting ‘pikeys’ on WhatsApp
  • Tom Haye, chief special officer was dismissed for gross misconduct. He appealed.
  • Haye claimed that because he is a Dutch-Bilingual national, he accidentally used the slur.
  • He claimed he tried to speak Dutch for “pikken”, which means steal in English










An officer chief was fired for using the word “pikeys” in a WhatsApp chat to a colleague. This was unfairly dismissed as it was an ‘one-off’ slip. A hearing was conducted today.

After using the insult, chief special officer Tom Haye was dismissed for gross misconduct. 

Today, he appealed against the decision and claimed he shouldn’t have been fired because he “doesn’t have a racist mentality” and was too rushed to send the message.

His previous statement was that he tried to use the English translation of “pikken” because he is Dutch and bilingual. He meant no offense by the slur.

Edmund Gritt (Mr Haye’s lawyer) argued that previous misconduct hearings took the “wrong approach” to this case.

Chief Special Officer Tom Haye (pictured) was fired for gross misconduct after he used the slur 'pikeys', which is considered derogatory towards Romany Gypsies and members of the Irish Traveller community

Chief Special Officer Tom Haye, (pictured), was terminated for gross misconduct following his use of the slur “pikeys”, which is considered offensive towards Romany Gypsies or members the Irish Traveller community.

According to Mr Gritt, the firing of Hampshire Police’s top special officer is necessary for a “one-off slip” because there’s no evidence that he holds racist views.

He stated, “This is a man with 30 years of volunteer service to the police. There has not been one slip.”

He used a term he shouldn’t have, but his slip doesn’t so harm his position that dismissal would be reasonable.

“In speech we all can make mistakes, slips, and even use a word that we don’t usually use.

“Does this suggest there might be concerns about how certain groups are treated by the officer?” It is the right question.

‘If [Mr Haye]Has a racist outlook and should be fired

Chief Special Officer Tom Haye (right) with the then Home Secretary Theresa May when she visited the University in Portsmouth in 2016

Chief Special Officer Tom Haye with Theresa May, then the Home Secretary when she visited Portsmouth University in 2016.

“But, if…” [the public]It is important to realize that this incident is unique and not from someone with racist thoughts or views. Otherwise, the public might not expect dismissal.

When the Hampshire Constabulary officer was talking to his colleague, who was house-sitting in May 2018, while he was abroad, he wrote a message that read: “Keep the pikeys away.”

What do special constables do and who are they?

Voluntary police with similar police powers and equipment to regular officers are known as special constables.

These officers will be working on their own and may have other duties that fit in with their police duties.

While officers won’t be compensated for their hard work, they will get paid. Any expenses will be reimbursed 

To become a Special Constable, you need to be an armed and able. British, Commonwealth, European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, not have a criminal record and have resided in the UK for a continuous period of three years.

A number of medical and fitness requirements must be met.

Haye was also the highest ranking Special officer and was in charge more than 100 Specials. He claimed that he was also rushed.

According to Mr Gritt, Mr Haye was visiting Washington DC at the time of the WhatsApp communication and was packing frantically for a four hour trip to North Carolina.

Mr Gritt added: ‘He [Mr Haye]For a four-hour journey to North Carolina, I picked up a rental car at an airport.

“Mr Haye spoke at the Tribunal hearing and stated that he was just chucking baggies in his car. He wanted to make sure the text was clear. [my colleague]To stay in my home. The process was quick.

“We will become aware of the rapid, instant speed with which messages are transmitted – although it’s not the spoken word yet it’s getting close to it.”

Haye also works as an IT professional. He had previously blamed the offense on his bilingualism and the fact that he didn’t understand the context of the word in English.

He stated that he would like to apologize for any offense caused by the term.

‘I am a bilingual Dutch national and, in haste, I used the term as a direct substitute for the Dutch word to steal – ‘pikken’ – without properly thinking through its derogatory meaning in English. It was not meant to be construed in a negative manner.

“At that time there were burglaries close to where I live. The conversation took place in the context of my friend house sitting while I was gone to prevent any thefts.

‘[The decision to dismiss me]It is not comparable to the things I did. This includes in regard to more recent, much worse offences in Hampshire that police officers weren’t dismissed.

“Finally I can take solace in knowing that my family and friends know that I have no prejudice against any of them.”

The specials act as volunteers, and therefore are not paid. Appeal hearings are ongoing. 

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