Lincolnshire police refuse to answer questions over number of officers convicted of criminal offences

Eastbourne
Eastbourne

Hundreds of police officers from across the UK have been convicted of offences in the last three years including sex crimes, assaults and possessing indecent images of children, new figures have shown.

But Lincolnshire Police refused to answer the request, arguing it would cost too much to retrieve the information.

The Press Association sent freedom of information requests to every police force in the UK asking how many police officers and PCSOs had been convicted of criminal offences since 2012 and the total number of serving officers with criminal convictions.

Forces revealed 309 police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) were convicted of offences from 2012 to June this year.

But the number of convicted officers is thought to be much higher, as only 25 out of 45 forces provided figures following an investigation by the Press Association.

Currently at least 295 police officers and PCSOs with convictions are serving with the police, according to separate figures from 18 forces.

Most forces refused to reveal how many of their officers had previous convictions because of the cost of retrieving the information.

Police also refused to disclose the names of the officers involved in crimes, arguing that identifying them would breach data protection laws.

The Freedom of Information (FoI) Act allows authorities to refuse requests if they calculate that the amount of work needed to retrieve the data means it will cost more than £450 to comply.

Guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office states that agencies should rate staff time at £25 per person per hour, regardless of whether the work is outsourced or done internally. This means a limit of 18 staff hours per request.

Katherine Gundersen, of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: “ The variation in responses is striking.

“While it may be understandable that some forces aren’t able to provide details of all convictions if this would require them to search through thousands of individual personnel files for historical convictions, it’s a serious concern that many forces apparently have no efficient way of retrieving information about recent convictions.

“This raises questions about how effectively they monitor and record the criminal conduct of their own officers.”

Breakdown responses by force:

:: Bedfordshire Police said it would exceed the fee limit set out under the Freedom of Information Act to retrieve the data.

However it said searches within the force’s Professional Standards Department found no serving officers had criminal convictions.

:: Cambridgeshire Police refused to answer the request. The force said the amount of time required to respond would be over the limit set out by the Freedom of Information Act.

:: Cheshire Constabulary said eight officers had been convicted of criminal offences since 2012.

A male detective constable was convicted of possession of a class A drug and misconduct in public office in December 2012, the force said.

A male police constable was cautioned for misconduct in public office for “sexual activity” in 2013, while another was cautioned for forging a prescription in 2014.

Also in 2014, a female detective constable was given a restraining order and fined for harassment for sending threatening text messages, a male detective constable was cautioned for a public order offence after getting involved in a fracas, a male PC was convicted of criminal damage and another PC was convicted of shoplifting.

In 2015, a male Pc was convicted of misconduct in public office for “sexual advances”.

Cheshire Constabulary refused to name the officers because it would breach data protection laws.

The force said 21 serving officers and PCSOs have convictions.

:: Cleveland Police said no serving police officers had been found guilty of a criminal offence in the last four financial years.

The force said there were 11 serving police officers and six PCSOs with a conviction, as of June 8 this year.

:: The Press Association did not receive a response from Cumbria Constabulary.

:: Derbyshire Constabulary said it would cost too much to retrieve the information.

:: Durham Constabulary said a male police constable was convicted in 2012 for possessing indecent images of children on a personal computer. A male PCSO was also convicted of common assault on a female member of the public while on duty in 2013.

The force refused to disclose the names of the convicted officers because it would breach the principles of the Data Protection Act.

Durham Constabulary said eight serving police officers and one PCSO had criminal convictions.

:: Greater Manchester Police said 12 police officers and five PCSOs have been convicted of criminal offences since 2012.

A male sergeant was convicted of misconduct in public office, a male inspector was convicted of fraud and a male Pc was convicted of possession of class B drugs.

Other offences included perjury, theft, harassment, possession of offensive weapons, perverting the course of justice and driving offences.

GMP refused to disclose the names of the officers convicted of offence because it would breach the principles of the Data Protection Act.

Five police officers and five PCSOs currently serving with the force have criminal convictions.

:: Hampshire Constabulary said a male police officer was convicted for urinating in a public place in 2012. A male police officer was also convicted of animal neglect in 2013.

The force did not name the officer because it would breach the Data Protection Act or publish the total number of officers with convictions in its response.

:: Hertfordshire Constabulary said it only held records of officers convicted while serving, not for those with a historic conviction prior to joining the force.

The force said it would exceed the cost and time limits under Freedom of Information laws to retrieve the relevant information.

However, a search of the Professional Standards Department database found that three officers had been convicted of a criminal offence since 2013 but none of them continued to serve.

One male officer was convicted of common assault in 2013, another was convicted of driving with excess alcohol in 2014, and a female officer was convicted of failing to provide a specimen of breath.

:: Humberside Police said four police officers had been convicted of criminal offences since 2012.

A male PCSO was convicted of sexual offences in 2012, a male special constable was convicted of a traffic offence in 2012, a male Pc was convicted a traffic offence in 213 and a male Pc was convicted of assault in 2015.

Humberside Police said two officers serving with the force had criminal convictions for traffic offences.

:: The Press Association did not receive a response from Lancashire Police.

:: The Press Association did not receive a response from Leicestershire Police.

:: Merseyside Police said it needed more time to respond to the request.

:: The Metropolitan Police said it would exceed the fee limit set out under freedom of information laws to find out the total number of serving officers with convictions.

However the force provided previously published data which showed 178 police officers had been convicted of offences from 2012 to March 31 2005. Fifty four of the officers were still serving with the force, including 10 who were awaiting the conclusion of misconduct review hearings.

Convictions involving Met police officers last year included two sexual offences, four violence against the person offences, three thefts, six offences of misconduct in public office and 19 traffic offences.

:: Norfolk Police said a male constable was convicted of fraud in 2014, a male constable was convicted of harassment in 2014 and a female constable was convicted of a public order offence in 2013.

The force refused to disclose the names of the officers because it would breach the Data Protection Act.

Four serving police officers within the force have criminal convictions.

:: North Yorkshire Police said the cost of retrieving the relevant information exceeds the “appropriate level” set out by Freedom of Information laws.

:: Northamptonshire Police said none of its officers have been found guilty of a criminal offence at court since 2012.

The force said it would exceed the cost and time limits under Freedom of Information laws to establish the total number of serving officers with a criminal conviction.

:: Northumbria Police refused to answer the request, arguing it would exceed the cost limit set out by the Freedom of Information Act.

:: Nottinghamshire Police said four officers had been convicted of criminal offences since 2012. Two were driving offences, another was a traffic offence and a male police constable was convicted of common assault.

The force did not give a reason why it had not disclosed the names of the convicted officers.

Six serving officers and three PCSOs had criminal convictions, Nottinghamshire Police said.

:: Police Scotland refused to answer the freedom of information request on cost grounds.

:: The Press Association did not receive a response from the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

:: The Press Association did not receive a response from South Yorkshire Police.

:: Staffordshire Police refused to answer the requests, arguing it would exceed the time and cost limits under Freedom of Information laws to retrieve the information.

:: Suffolk Police said a male sergeant was convicted of harassment in 2013 and a male constable was convicted of a Data Protection Act offence in 2013.

The force refused to disclose the names of the officers because it would breach the Data Protection Act.

Six serving police officers and PCSOs have criminal convictions, the force said.

:: Sussex Police said four male police constables and a male police sergeant had been convicted of driving offences since 2012.

It refused to name the convicted officers. A force spokesman said: “To disclose the identity of the officers would be a breach of the First Principle of the Data Protection Act 1998.”

Sussex Police said it was unable to provide information prior to 2013 as it would require a manual search of every officer’s personnel files.

:: Thames Valley Police refused to answer the Freedom of Information request on cost grounds.

:: The Press Association did not receive a response from Warwickshire Police.

:: West Mercia Police said six police officers had been convicted of offences since 2012.

A male sergeant was convicted of drink driving in 2014, a male Pc was convicted of using threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour with intent to cause fear of/provoke unlawful violence in 2013 and a male Pc was convicted of misconduct in public office in 2013.

In 2012, a male Pc was convicted of sexual assault on a female, another was convicted of theft from a motor vehicle and a female Pc was convicted of drink driving.

The force refused to disclose the names of the officers because it would breach the Data Protection Act. It also refused to say how many serving police officers had criminal convictions because the cost of retrieving the information would exceed the fee limit set out by the Freedom of Information Act.

:: West Yorkshire Police said it could provide information from 2013 onwards and in that time 10 police officers and one PCSO were convicted of criminal offences.

They included Detective Chief Superintendent David Knopwood, who was sacked for gross misconduct last year after admitting driving while twice the legal alcohol limit.

Two male officers and a female officer were convicted assaults, three male officers were convicted of drink driving, two male officers were convicted of drink driving and one male officer was convicted of fraud. A female PCSO was also convicted of theft.

The force did not name the officers who were convicted of offences. It also refused to say how many officers in the force had a criminal conviction because retrieving the information would exceed the time limit set out under freedom of information laws.