Police officers disciplined over private snooping

ROGUE POLICE officers are using official police computer systems to snoop on their loved ones for personal reasons.

Over 50 West Midlands Police officers have been disciplined for using the high-tech systems to check up on people outside of their working lives.

Some officers have been sacked, fined, or handed written warnings, and others have been reduced in rank after being caught obtaining information for private use between 2005 and 2010, while others have been punished for passing on the confidential information to third parties.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 51 officers have been disciplined during that time.

Of the 13 cases finalised last year a Detective Constable, a PC and three PCSOs were all dismissed without notice.

Five PCs were given written warnings while another was given a final written warning. Two special constables were also given “management advice”.

The figures show that 11 cases were finished in 2009, seven in 2008, 10 in 2007, seven in 2006 and three in 2005 – including an Inspector who was given a fine.

West Midlands Police spokesman Billy Corrigan said the action was taken as soon as possible to protect the public’s private information.

“West Midlands Police demand the highest standards of behaviour from its officers and staff,” he said.

“In addition to civil and criminal law, a range of disciplinary sanctions are available to senior officers.

“The fact that these incidents have been investigated shows that the force has a robust policy on information management and that we will thoroughly investigate any alleged breaches of data protection rules.”

Nine cases involving improper disclosure of information have been reported at neighbouring Staffordshire Police over the last year.

Police chiefs there say they “vigorously audit” data systems to ensure they are only being used for legitimate reasons.

Most cases in Staffordshire are dealt with by an apology or by actions agreed with the person who has complained. In more serious cases, formal disciplinary action can be taken.

The force has seen a drop in the number of complaints over the last three years.
West Midlands Police force has 12,500 staff including 8,500 full-time officers, 800 special constables and 750 community support officers.

West Midlands Police is the third largest force in the UK after the Met in London and the police service of Northern Ireland.

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