Police disciplined after corruption probe were let off with a 'slap on the wrist' MP

DEVON and Cornwall Police officers disciplined in the wake of a corruption investigation into the leaking of confidential information to private detectives were let off with a "slap on the wrist", according to an MP.

Eleven police officers, five support staff, prison guards and benefits agency employees were among the suspects identified in a two-year police inquiry into illegal data checks.
Operation Reproof uncovered an alleged web of leaked information, from Devon and Cornwall officers, among others, to a network of private investigators.

It would lead to two further national investigations into the activities of private investigators selling information to members of the Press – a relationship being examined at the Leveson inquiry after the phone hacking scandal.

Devon and Cornwall's operation resulted in six men – two serving police officers, two former officers and two private investigators – being charged in 2004 although the case collapsed in the courts in 2006.

It can now be revealed that five police officers later faced internal disciplinary proceedings – with a written warning being the stiffest punishment meted out.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, who was instrumental in getting details of Operation Reproof heard at the Leveson inquiry, said: "It does seem odd that at the end of one of the most expensive and lengthy investigations carried out by Devon and Cornwall Police, in which they found evidence that was apparently strong enough to take to trial, that more severe action was not taken against the police officers involved. It appears to me to be little more than a slap on the wrist. I am seeking a meeting with the chief constable for his views and whether or not he is satisfied with the way the aftermath of the inquiry was handled."

Documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that an inspector, a sergeant and three constables faced hearings along with two civilian members of staff. Names of those involved have been blanked out.

The inspector and two constables were given "management advice" – the lowest possible form of sanction.

Another constable was given a "written warning" which would have stayed on file for 12 months. The sergeant retired before any action could be taken.

The case was not proven against a "case reviewer" while the force could not find the details of the case against a member of communications staff.

Papers from one case detailed how one of the officers said he was "fearful of being labelled 'a leak'" when told he was under inquiry. It concluded that "on the balance of probabilities" he had made checks on the Police National Computer and disclosed the details.

Another officer, again "on the balance of probabilities", had leaked information from the police intelligence database about stop checks that had been carried out on a car. Details about a case which never reached court were also disclosed, the papers show.

In his statement to the Leveson inquiry last month, Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Middleton said nine serving police officers from Devon and Cornwall, five serving support staff from Devon and Cornwall, six retired police officers, two serving police officers from Dorset Police "had been identified as being suspected of committing offences ranging from corruption to computer misuse and Data Protection Act offences".

The Prison Service, Housing and Benefits Agency, British Telecom, Orange Telecom, and the South Western Electricity Board were also alleged sources of illicit information.

Police disciplined after corruption probe were let off with a 'slap on the wrist' – MP | This is Plymouth
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