Policemen held over burglary and assault

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The Independent Online

Two police officers were arrested yesterday in connection with allegations that they helped to plan and took part in a burglary in which a woman was assaulted and had CS sprayed into her face.

Two police officers were arrested yesterday in connection with allegations that they helped to plan and took part in a burglary in which a woman was assaulted and had CS sprayed into her face.

One of the constables is accused of committing the burglary at a house in west London with two other men, while the second, who was on duty at the time of the crime, is alleged to have helped to plan the break-in. The Metropolitan Police officers, both in their early 30s and based in west London, are understood to have discovered that the 50-year-old woman kept cash in her house after she contacted the police over another matter.

The four men, including two civilians in their late 20s and early 30s, were arrested during early-morning raids at their homes in west London after a two-month surveillance operation by Scotland Yard's anti-corruption group.

They were questioned at a south London police station in connection with the aggravated burglary.

The break-in took place at a house in Hammersmith in August last year when three men, allegedly including one of the officers who was off duty at the time, forced their way into the house and sprayed a noxious substance, believed to be CS or pepper spray, into the owner's face and knocked her to the floor. All Met officers are equipped with CS spray canisters. The burglars then threatened the woman with violence and demanded cash, but they left empty-handed after searching the house.

The police constable who was on duty at the time of the burglary went to the house when the owner called 999.

The constables arrested yesterday are expected to be suspended and a file is to be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether criminal charges should be brought against the men. The police operation is part of the Met's continuing drive against corruption.

A Scotland Yard statement said the operation followed "an intensive covert inquiry by the anti-corruption group. The inquiry was launched after the squad received information that two police officers may have been involved in an aggravated burglary in west London last year."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman from the Met's directorate of professional standards said: "Any corrupt act by a police officer is an abuse of the trust vested in us by the public. It can also undermine the brave work carried out by the majority of police men and women who protect and serve our capital city."

He added: "The public should be reassured that, as in any large organisation, corrupt conduct is confined to a tiny minority of staff."