A PCSO serving in south Essex is under investigation for allegedly abusing the police’s database.
The female community support officer has not been suspended, according to Essex Police, but is understood to be facing a tribunal on Thursday which will rule on allegations and decide on her future with the force.
The revelation closely follows the dismissal of a Southend constable for meeting and texting a vulnerable witness, the jailing of a female Benfleet constable for failing to pass a rape case to prosecutors and the investigation of a suspended Rayleigh constable after allegations he targeted vulnerable witnesses and struck up relationships with them. All the allegations have come to light in the past four weeks.
A police spokesman said: “Our professional standards department is investigating an allegation of misconduct relating to data protection issues. This is an internal investigation relating to one of the force’s PCSOs.”
A source said the PCSO had allegedly been “looking up people for a laugh” on the force’s national database and freely mentioning personal data about them.
Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said many of the allegations being made against officers, all of which have been published by his office, were “of deep concern” and added he was working with Essex Police to raise and maintain professional standards – including improving education on sensitive data.
But ex-cop Mick Thwaites, 57, who retired as Chief Superintendant and Head of Operations in 2009, and stood against Mr Alston to be commissioner, said he believed the majority of officers were honest and professional and extra education should not be necessary.
He said: “Computers have been around in the force for a long time now and if you have to keep telling police officers it’s wrong to use information in that way, then I think you’ve lost the plot.
“The minority of officers who are doing this for their own ends know what they are doing is wrong and know there is a strong likelihood they will get caught.
But it does terrible damage to the public’s confidence in the force, which is necessary for them to do their job.
“However, I’d say the fact they are being caught out and dealt with reflects well on the force and things are running like they should.”