Met officers passed vital police data to criminals

Hundreds of  data protection breaches are finally revealed  by Scotland Yard

Three members of the Metropolitan Police quit the force in a single year after passing information to underworld figures including a prominent criminal with links to guns, it can be disclosed.

The cases were among 300 breaches of data protection rules in nearly five years at Britain’s biggest police force. The offences included passing details of drugs intelligence and tampering with computer records in an apparent attempt to cover up a car theft ring, the details showed.

The force said some of the breaches led to prosecutions but were unable to give further details yesterday.

The scale of the wrongdoing by officers has only come to light after a freedom of information request by the Press Association, raising fresh questions about the transparency of the force.

The three cases involving information being passed to criminals, which all occurred in 2009, involved:

-Criminals using a police officer to obtain data to help their offending;

-The changing and leaking of information about the ownership of cars stolen by criminal gangs;

-Leaking of intelligence of a “significant level to a prominent criminal with links to firearms”.

Last night MPs warned that the breaches undermined trust in the police following continuing scandals over cover-ups and corruption.

“The public must be able to trust the police. Leaking confidential data is wrong and will undermine that trust,” said the shadow Police minister Jack Dromey.

The links to organised crime were among the most serious of the breaches, which also included proven cases of racism, searches for pornography from office computers and checks on a cab driver by an officer who had refused to pay him the night before, according to the records.

Another officer breached data laws after disclosing on Facebook that he had lost a bag containing police paper and equipment.

The breaches covered rank-and-file officers, senior investigators and civilian staff at the Met. The most senior ranking officer was a detective chief constable who committed offences contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2011, according to the data.

The officer was not named but Det Ch Insp April Casburn was sentenced to 15 months in prison last year for misconduct in public office for trying to sell information about the phone-hacking inquiry to the News of the World. The force could not confirm if the corruption case related to Ms Casburn.

A special constable received “formal action” for making the comment “damn niggers” on a Facebook photo of two men fighting, while one officer received management action for sending a picture of armed police outside the Commons, captioned with the words “Merry Christmas... Keep calm and fuck off.”

The former shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: “The extent to which police officers have used confidential police information for criminal ends, and abused individuals’ private information for their personal benefit, is astonishing. The Met needs to review, as a matter of urgency, the security control for confidential information the police hold on the public.”

Virtually all police disciplinary hearings are closed to the public but Scotland Yard began putting the outcome of misconduct hearings on its website from May last year without naming officers.

A spokesman for the force said: “The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) treats any allegation about the conduct of its staff extremely seriously and will always take steps to determine whether the conduct of that member of staff has breached the required standards of professional behaviour.

“The number of employees that are disciplined for the misuse of police information each year, accordingly, represents a very small percentage (just over 0.1 per cent) of those employed by the MPS.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones