UK

Hundreds Of Police Officers And PCSOs Convicted Of Crimes In Last Three Years

24/07/2015 08:02 BST | Updated 24/07/2015 08:59 BST

Hundreds of police officers have been convicted of offences in the last three years including sex crimes, assaults and possessing indecent images of children, new figures have revealed.

Forces across the UK revealed 309 police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) were convicted of offences from 2012 to June this year.

But the number of convicted officers is thought to be much higher, as only 25 out of 45 forces provided figures following an investigation by the Press Association.

Currently at least 295 police officers and PCSOs with convictions are serving with the police, according to separate figures from 18 forces.

Lucy Hastings, director of Victim Support, said: "As a charity that supports hundreds of thousands of crime victims every year we know that the vast majority of police are honest, trustworthy and committed to getting justice for victims.

"Victims of crime will clearly find these figures alarming. It is critical that victims know they can trust the police so that they have confidence to report crimes. But, understandably, it can be incredibly difficult to speak out about a crime committed by a police officer - someone we expect and trust to abide by the law.

"Victim Support is a charity that is independent of the police and anyone affected by crime can come to us for free and confidential information and support, regardless of whether the police are involved or when the crime took place."

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Most forces refused to reveal how many of their officers had previous convictions because of the cost of retrieving the information.

Police also refused to disclose the names of the officers involved in crimes, arguing that identifying them would breach data protection laws.

The highest ranked officer to be convicted since 2012 was a detective chief superintendent at West Yorkshire Police for drink driving, according to the figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

David Knopwood was sacked for gross misconduct last year after admitting driving while twice the legal alcohol limit.

The UK's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, said 178 police officers had been convicted of offences from 2012 to March 31, 2015.

Fifty four of the officers were still serving with the force, including 10 who were awaiting the conclusion of misconduct review hearings.

Convictions involving 46 Met police officers last year included two sexual offences, four violence against the person offences, three thefts and 19 traffic offences.

Greater Manchester Police said 12 police officers and five PCSOs have been convicted of offences since 2012.

A male sergeant was convicted of misconduct in public office, a male inspector was convicted of fraud and a male Pc was convicted of possession of class B drugs, the force said.

Other offences included perjury, theft, harassment, possession of offensive weapons, perverting the course of justice and driving offences.

Five police officers and five PCSOs currently serving with the force have previous convictions.

Devon and Cornwall Police said five police officers and five PCSOs had been convicted of offences since 2012.

The offenders included an officer convicted of possessing indecent images of children and two officers convicted of indecent exposure.

Devon and Cornwall Police said five serving police officers and PCSOs had convictions but most were "prior to recruitment and as juveniles".

Among the other forces to provide figures:

  • Durham Constabulary said a male police constable was convicted of possessing indecent images of children in 2012. A male PCSO was also convicted of common assault on female member of public while on duty in 2013.

  • Cheshire Constabulary said a male detective constable was convicted of possession of a class A drug in December 2012.

  • Hampshire Constabulary said a male police officer was convicted of urinating in a public place in 2012. Another male police officer was convicted of animal neglect in 2013.

  • Humberside Police said a male PCSO was convicted of sexual offences in 2012 and a male Pc was convicted of assault this year.

  • Norfolk Police said a male constable was convicted of fraud in 2014.

  • North Wales Police said a female Pc was convicted of assault in 2013 and a male Pc was convicted of a sexual offence in 2014.

  • Suffolk Police said a male sergeant was convicted of harassment in 2013.

  • West Mercia Police said a male PC was convicted of a sexual assault on a female in 2012.

Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer, the National Police Chiefs' Council's lead on professional standards and ethics, said: "One year on the code of ethics is now well embedded across the service and clearly sets out the standards of professional behaviour expected of officers and staff.

"When members of the service fall short of these standards well established and rigorous processes are in place to ensure appropriate action is taken.

"The decision by a force to retain someone with a conviction will have been carefully considered and only taken following a clear, national and regulated process."

Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland did not provide figures to the Press Association.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The vast majority of police officers in this country do their job honestly and with integrity. They put themselves in harm's way to protect the public. But the good work of the majority threatens to be damaged by a continuing series of events and revelations relating to police conduct.

"Over the last two years the Home Office has introduced a programme of measures to improve standards of behaviour in the police, including making the disciplinary system more independent and transparent through introducing hearings in public, preventing officers resigning or retiring to avoid dismissal, and - from next year - introducing legally qualified, independent chairs on misconduct hearing panels."