12 police officers charged with crimes

EXCLUSIVEBy Richard SmithTWELVE Suffolk police officers have been charged with criminal offences over the past five years, the force has revealed.Suffolk police said it had sacked officers after they had been found guilty of forgery, drink-driving and being drunk and disorderly.

EXCLUSIVE

By Richard Smith

TWELVE Suffolk police officers have been charged with criminal offences over the past five years, the force has revealed.

Suffolk police said it had sacked officers after they had been found guilty of forgery, drink-driving and being drunk and disorderly. Others who have been convicted of offences including wasting police time have also resigned from the force.


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The East Anglian Daily Times used the Freedom of Information Act to ask Suffolk police for details of officers charged with criminal offences during a five-year period up until July 1.

The EADT asked for this information following the conviction of Pc Michael Cheong, who is based in Ipswich, for the manslaughter of Brian Spencer, 23, in a shooting in Guyana, South America, in 1982.

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Suffolk police revealed 12 officers had been charged with criminal offences over the past five years, two of whom were sergeants and the rest were constables.

One constable is awaiting trial for two charges of theft and another constable is awaiting trial for an allegation of assault causing bodily harm.

Suffolk police said it had dismissed a constable after he was convicted of being drunk and disorderly and was fined £100 by the courts and ordered to pay compensation of £100.

Another constable was dismissed after being given a 120-hour community punishment order by the courts for two charges of forgery.

The force further dismissed a sergeant after he was banned from driving for 30 months and given a 180-hour community punishment order for drink-driving.

A sergeant who was also disqualified from driving and fined £400 after he convicted of drink-driving was required to resign

A constable resigned from the force after he was given a 200-hour community punishment order for wasting police time.

Suffolk police said they did not take disciplinary action against a constable who was acquitted of two charges of common assault, a constable who was cleared of an allegation of assault causing actual bodily harm and a constable who was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice

However, a constable who was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud nevertheless decided to resign from the force.

Cheong, 43, of Peterhouse Crescent, Woodbridge, is currently in custody awaiting sentence at the Old Bailey, London, on September 5.

He was cleared on August 8 of murder, which he had denied, but was found guilty by a majority verdict of manslaughter.

Cheong was suspended from duty from the time of his arrest in November 2003 and Suffolk police will hold disciplinary proceedings after he has been sentenced.

Anne-Marie Breach, a spokeswoman for Suffolk police, said: "Suffolk Constabulary employs some 2,000 people and is committed to maintaining the high standards that local people rightly expect from their police force.

"As such, the force takes all complaints seriously and, where appropriate, its professional standards unit conducts investigations which may result in disciplinary action, criminal charges or both."

She said officers who were being investigated would be suspended from duty, but when that suspension started would depend on the seriousness of the allegation made against them.

Suffolk police also revealed, under the Freedom of Information Act, that they spent £68,000 bringing the case against Cheong to court.

The case is estimated to have cost the British taxpayer more than £500,000 and the Suffolk police share of this was mainly spent on detectives' trips to Guyana to interview witnesses and take statements.

It included the cost of flights, hotels, the hire of vehicles and general expenses, but did not take into account the salaries of the detectives or the court costs associated with Cheong's two-week trial at the Old Bailey.

In addition, the Home Office paid for key prosecution witnesses to travel to London from Guyana to give evidence, meaning a further substantial bill was avoided by Suffolk police.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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