Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 15:42 UK

Policeman 'pestered prostitutes'

A police sergeant who left a colleague answering a 999 call so he could visit prostitutes has been given a suspended eight-month jail sentence.

Karl Cliff, 42, was so obsessed that one of the women told his Merseyside Police bosses he was pestering her, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

A police surveillance operation caught him with a number of women in Liverpool and Wallasey while he was on duty.

Cliff, of Flint, north Wales, admitted misconduct in a public office.

The officer, who has 17 years experience and is currently suspended, was arrested by colleagues in the early hours of 7 August 2007.

The court heard he was caught with a prostitute in his squad car, which was parked behind a DIY store.

Location lies

Graham Pickavance, prosecuting, told the court that Merseyside Police's professional standards unit launched the operation after Cliff's colleagues complained about his "interest in street workers".

One of the women also complained he was pestering her, he added.

Between April and August 2007 he was watched fraternising with prostitutes several times when he should have been on duty.

In early August, Cliff lied about his location when asked to help a Pc attending a break-in, where it was believed the burglars were still present, Mr Pickavance said.

Cliff admitted misconduct in a public office last month and sentencing was adjourned for psychiatric reports.

Donal Maguire, defending, said Cliff was a devoted officer whose experiences with the Royal Ulster Constabulary between 1996 and 2001 caused him post-traumatic stress.

'Breach of trust'

Mr Maguire told the court his client's subsequent depression led to him trawling the red light districts.

"He acknowledges he abused his position of trust to the police and public and also to his colleagues and employers," he said.

Judge Henry Globe QC, the Recorder of Liverpool, said Cliff's actions amounted to "a breach of public trust".

"The police and public have a right to expect the highest standards of conduct from officers but your actions have brought the police service into disrepute and ridicule," he said.

Cliff is to face a police tribunal which is likely to end in his dismissal, the court heard.

The officer, of Windsor Drive, Flint, will also serve 170 hours' unpaid work.

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