Officers suspended after allegations over confessions

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The Independent Online
WILL BENNETT

Two West Midlands police officers have been suspended while allegations that they persuaded criminals to confess to offences they had not committed to improve the force's clear-up rate are investigated. The two men, a detective constable and a police constable, are said to have got young offenders to sign blank police statement forms which the officers would later fill in with scores of offences. In return, the criminals were allowed out of jail for a d ay. No action was taken against those who admitted these offences, which were then allegedly transferred to the list of solved crimes contributing to a force clear-up rate of 80 per cent compared with the national average of 42 per cent. The claims about the activities of the two officers, who are stationed at Bromford Lane police station in Birmingham, were made in a Sunday newspaper after a six-week undercover investigation. West Midlands Police said in a statement yesterday: "We can confirm that as a result of information that has been passed to the West Midlands police our complaints and disciplinary department is carrying out a criminal investigation into the conductof t wo detectives." Because the investigation is a criminal one the two officers have been suspended until the outcome of the inquiry is known. They were removed from their duties on Friday, a day after a dossier on their alleged activities was handed to the West Midlands force. Sir Michael Shersby, the Conservative MP for Uxbridge who is parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation, said: "I am sure that is the right procedure. Any allegations of a criminal nature against the police should be immediately investigated by the a ppropriate department." Robin Corbett, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: "These are serious allegations of malpractice ... There needs to be a full public statement at the end of the inquiry to ensure that public confidence in our police is not damaged." The case is not the first time that West Midlands officers have been accused of misconduct. The force's Serious Crimes Squad was disbanded in 1989 after numerous complaints ranging from perjury and fabrication of evidence to fraudulent overtime claims. The most notorious incident involving the force was the case of the Birmingham Six, who were freed in 1991 after serving 16 years in prison for IRA bombings at two city centre pubs in the 1970s which the men had always denied. Charges of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against three West Midland detectives involved in the case were later dropped.

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