More than 900 police officers in Britain have criminal records

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

Forces across England and Wales employ police officers 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 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 requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

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

The Metropolitan Police, Britain's largest force, came out on top with 356 officers and 41 PCSOs with convictions. It was followed by Kent Police (49) and Devon and Cornwall Police (44). The criminal records include: a PC convicted of burglary as a teenager who is now with Devon and Cornwall Police; an inspector convicted of dangerous driving and another inspector convicted of possessing and supplying cannabis at Essex Police; five officers convicted of assault and one convicted of causing death by careless driving at Merseyside Police.

Most of the convictions are for traffic offences such as speeding and drink-driving, but the records also include an officer in South Yorkshire was 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 bodily harm, burglary, dangerous driving and supplying drugs – unless there are "exceptionally compelling circumstances".

PA