A POLICE officer has been forced to apologise after posting a comment on Facebook threatening to break a woman's fingers.

PC Rich Bridger has been ordered to make the apology after a member of the public complained about the offensive post. The officer - posting on his personal Facebook page - said he was annoyed about waiting for a train then callously joked that a woman playing the piano at Brighton Station would "be picking her teeth up off the live line with broken fingers".

The revelation is a further social media embarrassment to Sussex Police as it comes the week after two other Sussex Police officers were found to have caused "inexplicable and unnecessary distress" by posting a selfie of themselves at the scene of the Shoreham air crash with an offensive hashtag

Following a formal investigation the chief constable of Sussex Police concluded those two officers should be dismissed.

PC Bridger - who has worked as an equalities officer and on the force's LGBT liaison unit and safeguarding vulnerable people - has been spoken to by his managers about the incident and told to apologise.

However, the telling off is not considered an official disciplinary action for misconduct.

A spokesman for Sussex Police confirmed the force received a formal complaint about the post but added: "It was a personal account and the officer was not posting under his own name or identifying himself as a police officer, but the matter was brought to the attention of the force. "

A member of the public who saw the post on Facebook said: "What is the difference between a police officer threatening to break someone's fingers and teeth, to the selfie?

"I appreciate the aircrash was on a larger scale and affected so many people.

"But this officer works in the safeguarding vulnerable unit, which in my eyes makes his threats even worse.

"I think it's disgusting that it's not being treated more seriously

"Looks like the police are just brushing this under the carpet."

Detective Superintendent Paul Furnell said: "No matter that he was off duty or that he did not identify himself as connected to Sussex Police, his behaviour was not acceptable and not in keeping with the position of trust and responsibility that we place in all our officers and staff. Management action has been taken against him and an apology has been made to the complainant, who was not the subject of the post."

Under Home Office guidelines for police misconduct "management action" is not a disciplinary procedure, but simply guidance from a superior officer and it does not include a formal investigation. It could include pointing out how his behaviour fell short professional standards, establishing an improvement plan, and addressing any underlying causes of misconduct.