Should police forces employ officers with criminal records?

  Flak999 18:06 PM 02 Jan 12

This is took me by surprise, I was under the impression that to be a police officer you should not have had a criminal past. Obviously not! An article in the Daily Telegraph states that nearly 1000 serving police officers and PCSO's have convictions ranging from burglary, causing death by careless driving, robbery, supplying drugs, domestic violence, forgery and perverting the course of justice.

Those with criminal records include senior officers, among them two detective chief inspectors and one chief inspector working for the Metropolitan Police.

Is this acceptable? Should those we look too to uphold the law be criminals themselves?

  mobileman1953 18:10 PM 02 Jan 12

if they had criminal record first should not have been let in, if crime commited while serving officer should be sacked my opinion

  daz60 18:59 PM 02 Jan 12

I wonder about that comment.

I suspect that if an individual has committed an offence then the seriousness of such would be taken into account.If a presently serving officer has committed an offence then that alters the situation.

I can say that as a teenager i roamed far and wide and on one occasion crossing a piece of land next to M'boro docks i was stopped and informed i was trespassing,if this had resulted in a conviction would that still be held against me 40 years later.!?

  Kevscar1 19:11 PM 02 Jan 12

Is this acceptable? No

  sunnystaines 19:23 PM 02 Jan 12

NO not acceptable

  Woolwell 19:57 PM 02 Jan 12

It rather depends on the crime and when it was committed. I see that one example cited is of a person who was convicted of burglary as a teenager. That may have been the foolishness of youth/led astray by others. The person may now be a completely reformed character and an older and wiser, excellent policeman. What about rehabilitation? However there is also the reported case of the special constable who stole a set of number plates, etc. If that occurred later in life or when already serving then he or she should have been not employed or sacked.

  johndrew 20:44 PM 02 Jan 12

I almost completely agree with Woolwell, although I would draw the line at burglary or similar.

Minor motoring offences - speeding and similar - are not worth counting, but an offence that would attract a prison sentence should be examined most closely. Similarly a serving police officer should have their future employment closely examined if an offence (not parking or such) is committed.

There is an old saying though, "A good villain would make a good copper". Problem with that is the reverse is also true!!

  zzzz999 20:54 PM 02 Jan 12

I used to work for the Scottish Prison Service and we undertook a full criminal background check. You were allowed the general motoring offences and minor breach of the peace, drunk driving and any other crimes saw you barred. I am not sure what the process was if subsequent to employment you were convicted of a crime. I must admit I would be unhappy with serving police officers having criminal records above the very minor misdemeanors.

  Forum Editor 23:47 PM 02 Jan 12

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables some criminal convictions to become 'spent', or ignored, after a rehabilitation period.

The period varies according to the sentence, not the severity of the crime committed - a conviction that resulted in a prison sentence of between six months and two and a half years, for example would expire after 10 years if the person had been over 18 at the time of the offence, or after 5 years if under 17. Sentences of more than two and a half years never become spent.

The idea behind that act was that society recognised that people could in effect become reformed characters, and live a law-abiding life after serving their sentence - they shouldn't have to go on paying for the rest of their lives.

Once a conviction becomes spent it is no longer necessary for the person to mention it to a prospective employer. If asked if they have a criminal record they may legally answer 'no'. They may give the same answer when asked if they have ever been convicted of a criminal offence.

Cautions, reprimands or final warnings are not criminal convictions, and do not have to be mentioned to a prospective employer (or to anyone else, for that matter).

  WhiteTruckMan 00:04 AM 03 Jan 12

I think criminal offences committed while serving should be grounds for dishonourable discharge (or whatever the police equivelent may be). Not cautions, reprimands or warnings of any kind.

We have a right to expect higher than normal standards from those who have power over us. The fact that not only do they not live up to those standards, but are also seen not to be is a large part of the publics eroding confidence in the police in recent years. The fact that serving officers are also able to escape prosecution by quietly resigning does not help either.


  spuds 00:11 AM 03 Jan 12

I know of some police officer's that have committed 'minor' offences, before and after joining the police force. I have also known police officer's of various ranks being 'forced' or 'offered early retirement' to leave the police force or have even been sent to prison for committing 'major' offences. Some have only just had a slap on the wrist!.

Over the past four years, I have known at least four officer's of inspector level who have committed suicide, one of those had committed murder. All those death's resulted through investigations or actions being taken by the authority's against the individuals. Some of investigations were based on domestic incidents, within the officer's own family.

The world's changing, so I suppose is the rule book?.


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