Former staff member admits unlawfully accessing police computer systems
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A former Staffordshire Police staff member has pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing police computer systems to view photographs of crime scenes.
Darren Collins, 56, of Stafford, a digital forensic specialist based at Police Headquarters in Stafford, admitted misconduct in a public office after accessing over 3,000 images between January 2014 and December 2018 at Birmingham Crown Court today (Tuesday 9 November).
A number of the images downloaded were official police photographs of crime scenes and post mortems, which are taken to provide evidence of scenes which may later be used during criminal court proceedings or coroners court inquests.
Collins had claimed he viewed the images to further his knowledge of crime scenes and forensic science to progress his career.
He was arrested in March 2019 following an internal investigation by the force’s Professional Standards Unit after concerns were raised by colleagues. He was suspended immediately.
Collins faced internal disciplinary proceedings and was dismissed without notice for gross misconduct (discreditable conduct) in March this year. He was placed on the Police Barred List, which acts as a bar on working within policing and certain law enforcement bodies.
Deputy Chief Constable Justin Bibby, said: “Every day we are required to handle sensitive data and adhere to the proper use of systems without exception.
“The public trust us to secure the information we hold about them and this was a clear breach of that trust. We expect the highest levels of honesty and integrity from all of our staff and anyone who falls below these standards will be held to account.
“We have identified the people whose images have been viewed and have personally visited and updated the families affected.
“A rigorous and extensive investigation has found no evidence that the images have been shared.
“A comprehensive review of current security and access systems and processes has been carried out to ensure that these are as robust as possible.”
Collins, who had worked for the force for 18 and a half years, will be sentenced on 7 January 2022.