The criminals in uniform: Almost 1,000 officers with convictions from drug dealing to perverting justice are still in the police
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Two detective chief inspectors among 944 officers in England and Wales with a criminal record
One officer found guilty of gross misconduct after sending racist and sexist texts is still in his job
Hundreds of others facing misconduct allegations are allowed to escape punishment by quitting their forces
More than 900 police officers continue to serve despite being convicted of crimes including violence, robbery and fraud.
Forces employ policemen and women with criminal records for assault, burglary, supplying drugs and perverting the course of justice.
Among them are several senior officers, including two detective chief inspectors and a chief inspector working for the Metropolitan Police.
In some cases continuing to employ officers appears to directly contradict Government guidelines which insist on ‘proven integrity’.
They highlight that people with convictions for certain offences, including assault, dangerous driving and burglary, should not be recruited.
At least 944 serving officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) have a conviction. Most are for traffic offences such as speeding and drink-driving, but there are also offences of dishonesty and fraud.
Among the 944 are a Devon and Cornwall PC convicted of burglary as a teenager and officers in Essex convicted of dangerous driving, supplying cannabis and robbery.
A volunteer special constable continues to serve despite being convicted of swiping a set of car number plates and using them to steal petrol from service stations.
In Hertfordshire a sergeant was convicted of dangerous driving and a Kent PC has a 1998 conviction for perverting the course of justice.
Five Merseyside officers have been convicted of assault and another has a criminal record for causing death by careless driving.
A North Wales officer was convicted of forgery and a Staffordshire Police inspector has a record for keeping a dangerous dog.
A Surrey Police detective constable was convicted of obstructing police while others have records for wounding, drink driving and animal cruelty.
The total figure was revealed by 32 of the 43 forces in England and Wales in response to requests under freedom of information laws.
Many could not provide details of criminal records dating from before their staff joined, meaning the true figure is likely to be higher.
The Metropolitan Police, Britain’s largest force, employed the most staff with convictions, 356 officers and 41 PCSOs. It was followed by Kent (49), Devon and Cornwall (44), Essex (42), South Yorkshire (35), Hampshire (31) and West Midlands (27).
There are around 140,000 police officers, 15,000 PCSOs and 70,000 civilian staff in the 43 forces.
The figures emerged as a senior police officer insisted officers who resign before facing misconduct procedures are not being ‘let off the hook’.
Commander Peter Spindler, of the Met, admitted more than 130 employees left Scotland Yard over the past year instead of facing disciplinary measures.
But he said in many cases it is more ‘pragmatic’ to let them resign, and said complaints against police are falling. Simon Reed, vice president of the Police Federation, said misconduct panels decide whether an officer should be dismissed after considering each case.
He said: ‘Most police officers are dismissed if they commit a crime. It may be easy to condemn some cases but there will be specific reasons these people have been kept on.’
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the number of officers with criminal convictions is a small proportion of the workforce.
He added: ‘Any instance where the conduct of our staff is alleged to have fallen below the standards of behaviour expected is treated extremely seriously by the Met.’
A Home Office spokesman said forces should reject potential recruits with convictions for serious offences unless there are ‘exceptionally compelling circumstances’.
HUNDREDS OF POLICE OFFICERS FACING MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS ESCAPE PUNISHMENT BY RESIGNING
Hundreds of police officers facing misconduct allegations are being allowed to escape punishment by quitting their forces.
More than 130 employees were permitted by chief officers to walk out of Scotland Yard over the past year instead of facing a misconduct panel.
The force sacked 43 officers over that same period, figures show.
With police conduct under 'unprecedented' scrutiny, Commander Peter Spindler, the Metropolitan Police's discipline chief, insisted he was not letting corrupt officers off the hook.
But Mr Spindler, head of the force's directorate of professional standards, said in many cases 'it's actually more pragmatic to let them resign'.
Officers have been angered by a recent report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) claiming forces were failing to respond to 'far too many' complaints about officers.
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Heselden said he had been told 'we should be making an example of them' instead of letting them resign.
But he said: 'The process is slow, they are sitting there on taxpayers' expense, secondly there's no guarantee that a panel will come to that conclusion.
'It's cheaper and quicker to get them out of the force. The objective is to get someone out (of) the organisation.'
Officers working at the internal discipline unit said they would welcome clarity offered by recommendations in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry, the public investigation launched in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
Mr Heselden said there were 'grey areas' surrounding relations between police and journalists.
He said: 'For me, if I leak to a criminal, I'm a criminal. No-one doubts it.
'If I make an inappropriate leak to my family and tell them about sensitive police matters, that's a crime.
'But if I do it to a journalist ... is that a crime? Or is it public interest? At what point does public interest disclosure meet corruption?'
Discipline officers have beefed up the internal investigation unit in recent months, moving into a centralised base in Earls Court.
Officers say they now have 'every power available' to beat corruption, including setting up stings on its own employees.
In one recent case, the team set up a fake raid in a bid to snare an officer suspected of stealing from crime scenes.
'You wouldn't believe the work we go to,' Mr Heselden said.
'It had been set up to look like an east European drug dealer, including even the food in the fridge. People who are corrupt are incredibly suspicious.
'They know we exist and what lengths we go to - it means we have to go to the utmost lengths to outmanoeuvre them.'
POLICE OFFICER WHO SENT RACIST AND SEXIST TEXTS IS STILL IN HIS JOB
A police officer found guilty of gross misconduct after sending racist and sexist texts is still in his job, Northamptonshire Police has confirmed.
The behaviour of the constable was revealed in a Freedom of Information request submitted to the force by a member of the public, which said the officer had been disciplined earlier this year over text messages sent to another officer while off duty.
Although the force insisted it did not tolerate sexism or racism, follow-up questions by the Chron have revealed the officer is still working in the county.
A Northamptonshire police spokeswoman said: 'We can confirm that this year an officer was found guilty of racially and sexually-related misconduct, which involved the sending of inappropriate texts.
'It was found that these breached the high standards Northamptonshire Police demands of its officers. Sexist and racist behaviour will not be tolerated on or off duty.
'The officer in question accepted that the texts were wrong. The panel determined that the matter had not affected the officer's service to the community and as such the individual concerned has been allowed to continue to serve for the force.'
For such misconduct, an officer could potentially lose their job, but it is only one of a number of sanctions that can be brought, depending on the severity of the case. In each case, previous good conduct and character is taken into consideration.
Anjona Roy, chief executive of Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council, said knowing a still-serving officer had sent racist and sexist texts could damage public confidence in the force.
She said: 'Policing is dependent on people's confidence in officers. They are in a position of power and people have to feel that it won't be used for unfair purposes.
'I'd like to see all police standards reports made available where the officer has been found guilty so the public can judge for themselves if they think the punishment is proportionate or not.'