944 police officers 'have criminal record'

 


More than 900 serving police officers and community support officers have a criminal record, official figures show.

Forces across England and Wales employ policemen and women with convictions including burglary, causing death by careless driving, robbery, supplying drugs, domestic violence, forgery and perverting the course of justice.

Those with criminal records include senior officers, among them two detective chief inspectors and one chief inspector working for the Metropolitan Police.

At least 944 currently serving officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) have a conviction, according to figures released by 33 of the 43 forces in England and Wales in response to Freedom of Information requests.

Many forces could not provide details of criminal records dating from before their staff joined the police, meaning the true figure will be significantly higher.

The Metropolitan Police, Britain's largest force, came top with 356 officers and 41 PCSOs with convictions.

It was followed by Kent Police (49), Devon and Cornwall Police (44), Essex Police (42), South Yorkshire Police (35), Hampshire Police (31) and West Midlands Police (27), although not all the figures are directly comparable.

The criminal records include:

* Devon and Cornwall Police - a Pc convicted of burglary as a teenager.

* Essex Police - one inspector convicted of dangerous driving; another inspector convicted of possessing and supplying cannabis; a detective constable convicted of robbery; a Pc convicted of data protection breaches for viewing intelligence records relating to friends, relatives or other people living in the local area, and a special constable convicted of stealing a set of car number plates, putting them on another vehicle and obtaining petrol without paying.

* Hertfordshire Police - a sergeant convicted of dangerous driving.

* Kent Police - a Pc convicted of perverting the course of justice in 1998.

* Merseyside Police - five officers convicted of assault and one convicted of causing death by careless driving.

* Norfolk Police - a Pc convicted of causing death by careless driving.

* North Wales Police - an officer convicted of forgery.

* Staffordshire Police - an inspector convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm and a Pc convicted of keeping a dangerous dog.

* Surrey Police - a detective constable convicted of obstructing police officers; a Pc convicted of wounding; a Pc convicted of drink driving in 1988 and resisting arrest a decade later, and a Pc convicted of animal suffering in 2006.

Most of the convictions are for traffic offences such as speeding and drink-driving, but the records also include a South Yorkshire Police officer convicted of fishing without a licence.

Home Office guidelines issued in 2003 say police officers should have "proven integrity" because they are vulnerable to pressure from criminals to reveal information.

The guidance says forces should reject potential recruits with convictions for serious offences - including causing actual bodily harm, burglary, dangerous driving and supplying drugs - unless there are "exceptionally compelling circumstances".

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