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A former Staffordshire Police staff member has been jailed after pleading 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, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment at Birmingham Crown Court today (Friday 7 January).
Collins admitted misconduct in a public office after accessing over 3,000 images between January 2014 and December 2018 at the same court in 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, who had worked for the force for 18 and a half years, 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 Department 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 2021. 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 Emma Barnett said: “Collins pleaded guilty to a serious criminal offence and today’s sentencing reflects that.
“I’m very sorry for the additional distress that Collins’ actions caused to the families of the victims involved.
“We expect the highest levels of honesty and integrity from all of our officers and staff and anyone who falls below these standards will be held to account.
“The force is promoting a safe and open culture which makes clear to officers and staff that they are duty bound to challenge and report behaviour that does not align with the Code of Ethics.”