Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Sunday, 16 November 2008

MP attacks police officer crimes

Police officers
There are 43 criminal convictions among police officers in Hampshire

An MP has accused a police force of double standards over the way it deals with staff who have criminal records.

Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne said Hampshire Constabulary had sacked a civilian worker for shoplifting.

Yet he said figures on the force's own website showed serving police officers had 43 convictions for offences including assault, fraud and gun crime.

Hampshire Constabulary said: "All cases are dealt with according to their individual merits and circumstances."

Mr Huhne said the sacked civilian worker had contacted him over what she thought was unfair treatment.

The criminal records of the Hampshire officers include:

  • Two offences of possessing an offensive weapon
  • Possession of a firearm with intent
  • Firearms offence
  • Discharging a firearm
  • Three offences of actual bodily harm (ABH)
  • Affray
  • Making a fake statement for the purpose of obtaining benefits
  • Four offences of theft
  • Six offences of criminal damage, one by a police sergeant and two by police inspectors

Mr Huhne said that while other police forces also had serving officers with convictions - including drink-driving - some of the offences by Hampshire officers posed worrying questions because of their dishonest and violent nature.

Hampshire Constabulary sets and expects high standards from its officers and staff
Hampshire Constabulary spokesman
"If officers are convicted of dishonesty they can't give evidence in court, because they'd have to give their previous convictions to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service)," Mr Huhne told the BBC.

"It calls into question the honesty and self-control of officers."

He said that many of the offences were for violent crime, adding that the situation put at risk the public's relationship with the police.

"Police officers have a bond of trust with the public as they are the only people who can use violence under the law," Mr Huhne added.

'Reduction in rank'

A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary, which has 4,000 serving officers, said: "Hampshire Constabulary adheres to national standards for the discipline procedures for both police staff and police officers.

"The Home Office sets procedures to be followed for officers with criminal convictions. Hampshire Constabulary sets and expects high standards from its officers and staff.

"A criminal conviction does not preclude employment, however very careful consideration is always given to people with convictions.

"It should be noted that some of the convictions against officers occurred many years ago."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said police officers were subject to the Police and Misconduct Regulations set by the government.

The regulations allow a reprimand, fine or reduction in rank for misconduct and decisions are left to individual forces.

A spokesman said that from 1 December, new Police and Misconduct Regulations would come into effect, which would simplify and speed up the discipline process.

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