POLICE officers, who are supposed to uphold the law, have been found guilty of crimes ranging from rape and stalking to death by dangerous driving, grievous bodily harm and burglary.

Specialist Newsquest data reporters approached police forces across the country asking what crimes their officers had been found guilty of.

According to figures from 31 forces, nearly 1,200 employees have been arrested since 2015 - the equivalent of at least six a week.

Essex Police refused to disclose details of staff who have been arrested despite three police officers being jailed this year and another who a misconduct panel said would have been jailed had he not resigned.

Former detective constables Lee Pollard and Sharon Patterson, whose sabotage of child abuse investigations led them to being jailed, will not have been included in the figures.

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Lee Pollard and Sharon Patterson leaving the Old Bailey in London. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Neither will information from 11 other police forces which also refused to answer the Freedom of Information request, or gave just partial details. 

Essex Police said it would not provide the information requested due to time and cost.

A spokesman explained doing so should not be interpreted as an attempt to hide the information and how results of its misconduct hearings are published proactively.

“We hold all our officers and staff to very high standards and expect them to follow our code of ethics.

"We police with the public’s consent and having their trust and confidence is essential.

“Whenever there is a criminal allegation made against an employee from Essex Police we treat is seriously and proportionally – as we do with any allegation – and treat each case on its merits and investigate it thoroughly.

“We police without fear or favour and an Essex Police employee is treated no differently from any other member of the public accused of committing a crime."

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Newsquest’s Data Unit discovered officers were arrested for 300-plus violent offences, more than 140 sex crimes, including rapes, and in excess of 100 traffic offences between 2015 and 2019, after filing a Freedom of Information request.

  • Of those arrested, about 137 resigned or retired before disciplinary processes could be concluded;
  • 52 per cent of cases (619) ended in no further criminal action being taken;
  • Almost a quarter of staff (283) were dismissed as a result of their arrest;
  • At least 48 employees were jailed with sentences totting up to more than 56 years collectively;
  • More than 60 people were found not guilty or acquitted at court.

Phil Matthews, conduct lead for the Police Federation, said officers are under increased scrutiny, making them more likely to be charged for criminal wrongdoing than a member of the public.

He said: “If someone working for the police is accused of something in a criminal case, they’re much more likely to be charged and sent to court than a member of the public.

“That’s because, in my experience, we want to weed out wrongdoing and prove we’re not trying to look after our own.

“There are one or two really bad people that get into policing for malicious endeavours and are there to subvert. I have no qualms at all about them going to prison.

“There was a lot of concern about officers retiring or resigning while under investigation - these are often not people who are heading to prison but those who have been accused of committing a minor misdemeanour.”

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Former Det Con Jonathan Davies-Brewin outside Colchester Magistrates' Court. Picture: Newsquest

Regulations announced in 2017 mean investigations into officers who retire or resign from their force can still be pursued.

In response to the figures, the Home Office said police integrity sits at the heart of the British system.

Reforms are also being implemented which involves overhauling the police discipline system to make it more transparent, accountable and efficient.

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Mr Matthews added: “Cops are good at weeding out people who are not supposed to be there, none of us want corrupt people within the police who give the service a bad name. 

“The figures are fairly steady, which you might not expect, given that forces are dealing with more stress and more jobs.

“They also represent a tiny percentage of cops who are carrying out millions of interactions with the public every day.

“A small amount of those go wrong and require some form of restorative action.

“The vast majority of those who go on to lose their jobs or are prosecuted will come from complaints raised by us, within our ranks.

“We are a reflection of society so we will get one or two who are corrupt or attempting to get into the force to get some criminal gain from it.

“Where these cases happen, they can make headlines but they do come to the fore very quickly.”

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Phil Matthews, of the Police Federation

Forces which had the highest percentage of cases progress beyond an arrest were Lancashire Constabulary (64 per cent), Leicestershire (62 per cent) and Merseyside (47 per cent).

Dorset, the Met Police and Sussex had the most criminal most cases dropped.

But as a percentage of total workforce, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Police force staff, as opposed to just officers, were top three for arrests.

A spokesman for the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which oversees the police complaints system and most serious incidents, said: “Police officers have a really difficult job.

“Most officers work with the utmost integrity and make tough decisions in trying circumstances.

“However, when things go wrong or police abuse their position, the public rightly expect scrutiny and accountability - they need to be confident professional standards are upheld.

“Police forces deal with the majority of complaints against police officers and police staff and are responsible for determining what action is taken against officers when there is misconduct, corruption or criminal activity.

“We remain committed to rooting out a small minority of officers and staff who deliberately break the law or otherwise fail to protect the people they serve.”

ESSEX POLICE'S MISCONDUCT HEARINGS

DETAILS for nearly 70 Essex officers’ misconduct hearings have been published online between 2015 and 2019.

Not all of them are named and not all of the claims were proven.

For those which were, more than a third of officers, 42 in total, had been dismissed without warning.

Nine officers were placed on the disapproved register, putting an end to their policing career.