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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Probe into 'Robocop' inquiry
Detective Superintendent Ray Mallon
DS Mallon still faces disciplinary charges
The Home Secretary Jack Straw has ordered an inquiry into one of the most high-profile internal police investigations.

Operation Lancet investigated allegations that the so-called "Robocop", Detective Superintendent Ray Mallon, and his fellow officers engaged in illegal practices while he was in charge of Middlesbrough CID.

No charges were brought against any officer involved despite a three year long investigation which cost an estimated 5m.

The Home Office confirmed the review of Operation Lancet will be carried out by Sir John Hoddinott, the Chief Constable of Hampshire Police.

'Revamp police complaints'

Det Supt Mallon, who remains suspended along with six other officers, said he was "delighted" about the investigation.

Jack Straw
Jack Straw: Orders probe
It could lead to a revamp of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

A Home Office spokeswoman said the department is devising a new independent process to investigate complaints against the police following Operation Lancet.

"As part of that, we need to consider whether there are any operational lessons to be learned from one of the most complex and lengthy investigations to date," she said.

Det Supt Mallon earned the plaudits of Tony Blair during the 1997 General Election campaign for his zero tolerance policy as head of Middlesbrough CID.

In 1996 he said he would resign if he failed to cut crime by 20% in 18 months. Subsequent figures showed a 22% reduction.

From day one I have defended my actions and those of my officers. We did not break the rules, all we did was cut crime

Det Supt Ray Mallon

It earned him the nickname Robocop.

Det Supt Mallon was suspended in 1997 pending allegations that he and eight other officers engaged in illegal practices.

These included allegations of officers attempting to bribe suspects in return for information.

Sixty-one different officers were investigated during Operation Lancet.

It led to 390 different charges and a mammoth 14,000 witness statements.

But the Crown Prosecution Service decided last year there was not enough evidence to bring a criminal conviction against any officer involved.

One of the biggest critics of Operation Lancet was Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Ashok Kumar who has welcomed the inquiry.

However, Det Supt Mallon, who has always protested his innocence, still faces an internal Cleveland Police disciplinary hearing in June.

"I have been calling for some time for a full investigation into the management and direction of Lancet and I am delighted at this news," he told the Independent newspaper.

"From day one I have defended my actions and those of my officers.

"We did not break the rules all we did was cut crime and win back the streets for the law abiding citizen."

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15 Sep 00 | UK
'Super cop' charged
22 Jun 00 | UK
'Super cop' fights back
29 Sep 98 | UK
What is zero tolerance?
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