More than 300 police and community support officers convicted of serious crimes

Freedom of Information requests revealed that 309 officers had been convicted of crimes including sexual offences and the possession of child abuse images

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of police and community support officers have been convicted for serious crimes – including sexual offences – in the last three years, figures show.

The data, the result of a number of Press Association Freedom of Information requests, reveals offences include sex crimes, assaults and the possession of child abuse images.

At least 309 officers and community support workers (PCSOs) had been convicted in the last three years, although only 25 out of 45 forces provided figures.

In the Metropolitan Police, as many as 178 officers were convicted of crimes between 2012 and 2015 – with 54 still serving.

Elsewhere, Devon and Cornwall and Durham constabularies admitted each had discharged an officer from the force after indecent images of children were discovered in their possession.

Cheshire police force had a total of eight officers with convictions, including one who was convicted of shoplifting and another who was found in possession of a Class A substance.

Two West Midlands police officers had been convicted of gross indecency and sexual activity with a child under 16-year-olds.

Of the 25 forces who did not respond, they either said that the cost of retrieving the information would be too great or failed to respond entirely. No officers were named in the data collection, with forces telling Press Association that it would breach data protection laws to identify them.

Neither Police Scotland nor the Police Service of Northern Ireland responded to requests.

A Home Office spokesperson claimed measures had been introduced to improve behaviour in the force.

"The vast majority of police officers in this country do their job honestly and with integrity. They put themselves in harm's way to protect the public,” they told the BBC.

According to the latest government data there are more than 200,000 UK police workers, which includes those working in a support role, as well as officers and PCSOs.