MP probe call into police trust abuse

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden
Have your say

CALLS were today made for better security within the police force after it was revealed 30 Lancashire officers and staff have abused access to confidential files.

Four police staff were sacked, one resigned and five were given final warnings.

One civilian staff member was sacked after she was found to have posted confidential police information on social networking website Facebook.

In Blackpool, it was alleged a police officer used computer systems to access information about a woman and then disclosed it “inappropriately”.

The officer, who allegedly committed the breach in 2009, resigned before a disciplinary hearing was held.

Another officer was found to have accessed records to find information about his daughter’s husband.

The officer later told his daughter the man had previous convictions for sexual offences.

The officer was disciplined but not sacked.

Shocked community leaders today said some police officers and staff had abused the community’s trust.

Bruce Allen, from Mereside and of residents’ group Blackpool Community First, said: “This is wrong. Police are in a position of trust and they shouldn’t abuse that trust.

“They need to be policed themselves.

“If they are found to be breaching confidentiality they should be prosecuted and sacked, no argument.”

Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool South, said the revelations should prompt the chief constable to review the use of police systems.

He said: “It’s clearly concerning.

“I think it would be appropriate in view of these cases for the chief constable to look at the force’s internal protection systems and processes and whatever measures are needed to tighten this up.

“In the current climate and given this Freedom of Information request, the information commissioner could look at whether the guidelines are appropriate.”

Oral and written warnings were given to other employees as well as counselling, management action and formal advice.

The figures, which were obtained through a Freedom of Information request, involve breaches of the Data Protection Act in the past three years from May 2008 to May 2011.

The figures were released by Big Brother Watch, which is a campaign from the founders of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

It discovered more than 900 police staff in the country have abused their access to confidential databases.

Daniel Hamilton, director, said: “It’s astonishing to think that 904 police officers and support staff across England have faced disciplinary action for abusing their access to confidential systems. 243 have received criminal convictions for their actions, while 98 have lost their jobs.

“Police forces must adopt a zero tolerance approach to this kind of behaviour.

“Those found guilty of abusing their position should be sacked on the spot.”

Lancashire Police said an investigation is always launched when an officer’s conduct falls below what is expected.

Det Chief Insp Sion Hall said: “We expect the highest of professional standards from our employees and the majority are proud to deliver that on a daily basis.

“We aim to deliver a quality policing service to the public of Lancashire and when an officer’s conduct, on duty or off duty, falls below the standards, there will be an investigation into what has occurred and if the allegation is proven then appropriate action will be taken.

“All officers are subject to the standards of professional behaviour set out in the Police Conduct Regulations.

“These regulations are very clear and state police officers must be honest, act with integrity and do not compromise or abuse their position.

“Officers hold a position of trust, with privileged access to data and systems, and they have a positive duty to demonstrate that trust to the communities we serve.”