A police forensics expert who illegally stored images of murder victims and crime scenes on his own computer has been jailed for three years.
Darren Collins, 56, pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office after unlawfully accessing more than 3,000 images on police computer systems between January 2014 and December 2018.
The digital forensic specialist, who was based at Staffordshire Police headquarters, downloaded numerous photographs of crime scenes and post-mortem examinations onto USB sticks before taking them home and uploading them to his personal computer.
Some images related to murder scenes with or without a victim, while others depicted post-mortem examinations of murder victims, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said. There was no evidence to suggest he had distributed any of the images.
After his arrest in March 2019, Collins, who had worked for the force for 18 and a half years, claimed he had viewed the images to further his knowledge of crime scenes and forensic science in order to progress his career.
Staffordshire Police said the arrest followed an internal investigation by the force’s professional standards department following concerns raised by colleagues.
Collins was immediately suspended and faced internal disciplinary proceedings. He was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct in March 2021.
He was sentenced to three years in prison at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday and has also been placed on the police barred list, meaning he will be unable to work within policing and other law enforcement bodies.
Deputy chief constable Emma Barnett, of West Midlands Police, said after the sentencing: “Collins pleaded guilty to a serious criminal offence and today’s sentencing reflects that.
“I’m very sorry for the additional distress that Collins’s actions caused to the families of the victims involved.
“We expect the highest levels of honesty and integrity from all of our officers and staff, and anyone who falls below these standards will be held to account.
“The force is promoting a safe and open culture, which makes clear to officers and staff that they are duty-bound to challenge and report behaviour that does not align with the Code of Ethics.”
Paul Reid, district crown prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, added: “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.
“I hope that today’s sentence will act as a deterrent to other public servants who may be tempted to abuse the trust that has been placed in them.
“Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased who would have no doubt experienced further distress due to his actions.”
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