Ex-police officer jailed over leaks

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The Independent Online

A former police officer who regularly fed confidential information to criminal contacts was jailed for 18 months today.

For months William Stone, 25, either came in early or while off sick to illegally access an array of restricted data systems, including the Police National Computer.

The Hertfordshire constable then made notes about a number of investigations as well as personal details of so-called "nominals", or "persons of interest to the police".

Among his contacts was close friend and restaurateur Ishmail Rahman, 26, who has a previous caution for drugs possession and was told at one point an arrest warrant had been issued for him over a motoring offence.

When police raided his home they found details in his Filofax about a police officer he believed had a "vendetta" against him.

Nicholas Paul, prosecuting, told London's Southwark Crown Court that once again it was information Stone had supplied.

He said the Hemel Hempstead-based officer's "breach of trust" was committed in the face of stark computer screen warnings spelling out the consequences of misusing the sensitive systems.

But that did not stop the officer from falsely claiming the checks were for "intelligence purposes".

"But there was no proper purpose for him to make those checks... none of the people he looked into had any connection to any duties he had."

The barrister said when Stone was arrested at his home in West Avenue, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, on November 7 last year, he told his fellow officers: "You are joking aren't you?"

When interviewed he explained he joined the police in 2004 "because I am protective over my friends and wanted to look after people who can't fight their own battles".

Mr Paul said when questioned about the checks he had made, Stone explained the "intelligence systems" suggested those he inquired about "were involved in the supply of drugs".

He then told investigators he wanted to see "if they corroborated rumours about his friends".

Stone added he should have told his bosses about his relationship with Rahman and another man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

He admitted six counts of obtaining personal data, one of conspiring to do so, one of misconduct in public office and two of conspiring to commit such an offence.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of securing unauthorised access to programmes or data and one of conspiring to carry out such activities.

Sentencing, Judge Stephen Robbins told him: "As you will recognise these were very serious and repeated breaches of trust on your part as a police officer.

"It is been said before and bears repeating that the integrity of the Police National Computer is of absolutely vital importance and it goes without saying that the public must have faith and confidence in it and that the information will not be released.

"As a serving police officer you were in a position of trust and expected to uphold it. Police officers have very considerable powers and privileges in the course of their duty and if they abuse their position, as you did, a prison sentence is inevitable."

Turning to Rahman, of Drakes Drive, St Albans, Hertfordshire, who admitted one count of conspiring to obtain personal data, the judge said the most appropriate punishment in his case was a £1,000 fine.

He was also ordered to pay a £500 towards prosecution costs.

Outside court, Detective Superintendent Martin Darlow, Head of Professional Standards for the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: "We will always actively seek out and pursue officers or staff who abuse the trust of our communities through the position they hold and undermine the excellent work carried out on a day to day basis by other officers and staff.

"We are pleased Stone pleaded guilty to all charges and received a substantial prison sentence.

"I hope this sentence acts as a deterrent for the small number of people who might be minded to commit similar offences."

The officer added: "I would just like to add such conduct is rare but where it does occur we are quick and ruthless in pursuing those responsible."