Police forensic expert admits storing photos of crime scene corpses on his computer

He claimed he kept the images to improve his knowledge of forensic science

Lamiat Sabin
Tuesday 09 November 2021 22:08
<p>The digital forensics specialist worked for Staffordshire Police for more than 18 years </p>

The digital forensics specialist worked for Staffordshire Police for more than 18 years

A former digital forensic police expert had admitted to unlawfully accessing and storing photos of corpses on his personal computer.

Darren Collins, 56, from Stafford, pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office at Birmingham Crown Court.

The Staffordshire Police staff member had accessed the force’s computer systems and downloaded many images of dead bodies, many of which were of people that died in crime scenes, to his own computer.

Other images were of bodies undergoing post-mortem examination, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Collins accessed more than 3,000 images between January 2014 and December 2018, it added.

He was charged after police seized his workstation computers in January 2019 as part of an unrelated investigation, leading to a search of his home, where more than 60 digital devices were recovered.

Collins, who had worked for the force for nearly 19 years, said that he viewed the images to improve his knowledge of crime scenes and forensic science to progress his career.

There is no evidence to suggest he distributed any of the images.

Paul Reid of the CPS said: “There are clear professional standards to adhere to when working in a public office, and Darren Collins was in a position of trust but he abused his position and the public’s trust in him as a holder of public office.

“He has pleaded guilty to the offence just before the commencement of his trial, due to the overwhelming evidence gathered against him and reviewed by prosecutors. His actions would have no doubt caused further distress to the families of the deceased and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

Staffordshire Police said Collins was arrested in March 2019 following an internal investigation by the force’s Professional Standards Unit after concerns were raised by colleagues.

He was suspended immediately and faced disciplinary proceedings, at which he was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct.

Deputy Chief Constable Justin Bibby said: “Every day we are required to handle sensitive data and adhere to the proper use of systems without exception.

“The public trust us to secure the information we hold about them and this was a clear breach of that trust. We expect the highest levels of honesty and integrity from all of our staff and anyone who falls below these standards will be held to account.

“We have identified the people whose images have been viewed and have personally visited and updated the families affected.

“A comprehensive review of current security and access systems and processes has been carried out to ensure that these are as robust as possible.”

Collins will be sentenced on 7 January.

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