UK & World News

  • 6 May 2014, 9:29

Officers 'Helped Criminals And Searched For Porn'

Metropolitan Police officers have been caught assisting criminals, using their computers to search for pornography and making racist and sexist comments on the internet, a probe has revealed.

They were among some 300 data protection breaches which were investigated and substantiated over the last five years, according to a Press Association investigation.

Two thirds were subject to formal action being taken, including criminal prosecutions, while a fifth ended in a sacking or resignation.

The breaches were committed by rank-and-file officers, senior investigators and civilian staff at the country's largest police force.

One officer was arrested for leaking intelligence "of a significant level to a prominent criminal with links to firearms", the force said.

A special constable was reprimanded for making the comment "damn n*****s" on a Facebook photo of two men fighting, and another for sending a picture of armed police outside the Commons, captioned with the words "Merry Christmas... Keep calm and f*** off".

An officer was disciplined for making inappropriate sexual comments about children on a website, one joined and posted photos of himself on the Facebook of Sex website, while another sent a spoof image of a caravan adorned with Nazi references to an external address.

One officer was caught using their internal email for dating purposes, a PCSO using the police computer to check up on her boyfriend, and another for looking up the "details of a cab driver he had refused to pay a few nights before".

Some officers secretly supplied reporters with information - in some cases in exchange for cash, the Met comfirmed.

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said the breaches undermined public trust in the police, adding the "revelations are the sort of thing that will deeply concern the man on the street".

Emma Carr, deputy director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: "It's important that police do their utmost to ensure people are disciplined when malicious data sharing has taken place, and for them to ensure that if criminality has occurred they feel the full force of the law - it shouldn't be one rule for police and one for the rest of us."

A Met spokesman said: "We recognise that protecting the sensitive data we hold is critical to public confidence and our ability to fight crime effectively.

"The MPS treats any allegation about the conduct of its staff extremely seriously and will always take steps to determine whether the conduct of that member of staff has breached the required standards of professional behaviour."