Hampshire policewoman Rebecca Swanston jailed for corruption
A policewoman with the Hampshire force who disclosed intelligence to criminals has been jailed for three years.
Rebecca Swanston, 28, pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to three counts of misconduct in a public office between January and October 2012.
Swanston, who served as a PC until November, was secretly recorded in her home having incriminating conversations with criminal associates.
She accessed information from police systems while working in Southampton.
Swanston, of Lomond Close, Portsmouth, was involved in intimate relationships with suspected and known criminals in Southampton, including drug dealers.
The court heard she told suspected criminals they were wanted and advised them about police tactics, enabling them to avoid detection.
Swanston had accessed intelligence from police information systems while based at Southampton Central police station.
The court was told two men confessed their roles in crimes to her, including a machete attack, but she did not pass on the information.
You were clearly empowered by the information you had and could disclose to these men”
It also heard that after Swanston's activities came to light, a case against two suspected drug dealers, who she did not know, was dropped as her evidence formed a key part of the prosecution.
One of the suspects later went on to supply drugs to a person who died after taking them.
Swanston was dismissed from Hampshire Police in November after admitting gross misconduct.
Passing sentence, Judge Jane Miller QC called Swanston's behaviour “self-destructive”.
“I suspect you behaved in this way because you wanted to. You were clearly empowered by the information you had and could disclose to these men.
“It is a very unattractive feature of this case.
“These offences were a gross breach of trust in every sense,” she added
Speaking after the hearing, Det Supt Colin Smith, of Hampshire Constabulary's Professional Standards Department, said Swanston's actions “went totally and utterly against values of honesty and integrity required of her as a police officer”.
Soca Chief and Senior Met police officer ‘misled’ MPs over blue-chip hacking saga
Met detectives investigating historic evidence of computer hacking buried for years by Soca only received key information last week
The head of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and a senior Scotland Yard police officer misled MPs investigating the blue-chip hacking scandal, committee members investigating the case have said.
Trevor Pearce, the agency’s director-general, and Commander Neil Basu issued a joint statement to the Home Affairs Select Committee last month that claimed Soca provided the Metropolitan police with “full access” to key computers seized years earlier from corrupt private investigators.
But following further questions from the Committee, it has emerged that Met detectives investigating historic evidence of computer hacking buried for years by Soca only received key information last week.
In a letter to Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Commander Basu was forced to admit his officers had only just been passed a list of 102 blue-chip companies who hired rogue PIs who hack, blag and steal sensitive information.
Mr Vaz said: “It is very surprising that the first time the Metropolitan Police had access to these lists was on 30 July. This is even more puzzling considering the joint statement released on 12 July 2013 by Soca and the Met which stated that ‘the MPS have been given full access to all material held by Soca’. Clearly this was not the case.”
The development piles fresh pressure on the Met and Soca, whose chairman, Sir Ian Andrews resigned last week. Both organisations have faced questions since The Independent revealed law enforcement agencies had knowledge for years that law firms, insurance companies and other sectors employed criminal private investigators – yet faced no censure.
Investigators from Soca seized the hard drives from a hacker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, during a raid in 2009. Despite evidence of criminality, he was charged with only minor offences in 2011.
It is understood the Met has only obtained “incremental” disclosure of the evidence from Soca, which has baffled independent security sources.
Yet when MPs asked Mr Pearce what happened to the hard drives last month, he said: “As soon as we became aware that there may have been information on that… all of that information – the hard drive, supporting documentary evidence, statements, and indeed follow-up inquiries from our officers, was provided to the Metropolitan Police.”
Tom Watson MP said: “I have a very strong reason to believe that the contents of these hard drives contain evidence of extremely serious criminal activity that has been ignored…
“Given the way Parliament has been misled, the Home Affairs Select Committee would be within its rights to order full, independent analysis of the computers. Can anyone trust Soca with this scandal any more?”
A Met Police spokesperson replied to the allegations, saying: “Between May and December 2011 the Metropolitan Police worked with Soca who made available all of their Operation Millipede information. This was essentially huge quantities of electronic data, the hard drives of which were supplied to the MPS.
“This material was only put in list format for the Home Affairs Select Committee, and the MPS only provided with the information in that format on 30 July. In common with Soca, the MPS is not alleging that the individuals or companies on the list have, or even may have, committed a criminal offence.
“The MPS is checking the list against its open investigation and will inform the committee when this is complete.”
A Soca spokesperson said: “As previously stated in correspondence to the committee, the MPS have been provided with full access to all Operation Millipede material held by Soca. The Operation Tuleta team was involved in the preparation of the list, and requested that client information relating to their ongoing investigation be removed prior to its release to the committee. Commander Basu later received a personal copy of the list on 30 July
Source – The Independent.
It is ‘wrong’ to pursue change in the law for quotas in policing when pushing diverse recruits out, according to the Police Federation
Senior officers are ‘turning on the tap but not putting the plug in’ on diversity in the service after seeking a change in the law to introduce quotas – but not addressing retaining officers from such backgrounds.
The Police Federation of England and Wales has sounded the warning in a letter to Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, this week after it published its recent report on Leadership and Standards, supporting a move for positive action and asked for them to consider both retention and progression in the service.
Ian Rennie, General Secretary of the Police Federation, raised concerns to Mr Vaz this week in which he says: “We fundamentally disagree that the law needs to be changed to allow a quota of recruits from certain minority groups as has been advocated by some senior police officers for several years.
“The Equality Act 2010 permits positive action to be undertaken in appropriate circumstances but the police service has not taken advantage of all lawful means at its disposal. Senior officers are looking for a quick fix when they should be developing a sustained approach that attracts and supports people from different cultures and backgrounds in the service. Rather than seek to change the law, senior officers should take a positive approach to supporting diversity in their force.”
He then presents examples where changes within forces are having exactly the opposite impact on both retaining women and black and minority ethnic officers. As cuts are taking a toll on force budgets, Chief Officers have instigated set rigid shift patterns which has meant women in particular, who have family commitments and work reduced hours, are being forced to leave.
In another example, the College of Policing is looking to roll-out a new work-based assessment promotions system called the National Police Promotions Framework (NPPF) which could put both women and BME officers at a disadvantage because it is designed to promote officers already within the force.
Around 80 per cent of the total numbers of BME officers serve in just nine forces – with around half of the 6,663 serving in England and Wales in 2012 based in the Met.
Mr Rennie adds: “If the NPPF becomes the only method of promotion 34 forces will have a promotion pool that will be wholly or mainly white. We believe the NPPF is also likely to have a disproportionate adverse impact on women officers because of the length of time the process takes. Women take time out of the workplace for maternity and have primary responsibility for childcare and other caring responsibilities.”
The Federation has already highlighted how changes introduced through the Winsor recommendations, such as lower starting salaries, in-service fitness tests and removing officers on restricted duties, will also have a negative impact on diversity.
IPCC investigating MPS contact with Linah Keza before her death
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is independently investigating previous contact between Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers and Linah Keza before she was found stabbed in Leyton on Wednesday, 31 July.
The MPS referred the matter to the IPCC as it became apparent officers had contact with Ms Keza, 29, on three separate occasions in the days leading up to her death.
IPCC Commissioner Jennifer Izekor said:
“This is a tragic case involving the death of a young woman who was in the prime of her life and our thoughts go out to Linah’s family and friends, who naturally must be devastated.
“Our investigation is in the very early stages and we will be making contact with Ms Keza’s family to explain our involvement and to answer any questions they may have.
“As a murder investigation is underway we need to be cautious about information we make public so as not to interfere with the ongoing criminal proceedings.
“We hope to be in a position to outline the IPCC’s investigation in due course.”
Source – IPCC.
IPCC outlines terms of the review of its findings following the independent investigation into Sean Rigg’s death
The IPCC’s review of its findings in the investigation into the death of Sean Rigg is underway and terms of reference have been agreed.
The IPCC announced the review in May 2013 following publication of Dr Silvia Casale’s independent report into the original investigation which made a number of recommendations including a re-examination of whether there is potential misconduct in respect of the actions of the police officers involved in Mr Rigg’s arrest and detention.
The review, conducted by IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen, will revisit the decision of the previous Commissioner not to make a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) regarding any officer involved in the arrest and/or restraint and/or detention of Mr Rigg.
It will also revisit the previous Commissioner’s decision and determine whether any person serving with the police who was involved in the arrest and/or restraint and/or detention of Mr Rigg has a case to answer for misconduct or gross misconduct and whether to recommend disciplinary proceedings.
A dedicated team of investigators, led by a senior investigator, are considering the evidence previously gathered during the IPCC investigation, evidence put before and heard at the inquest and evidence collected by the review.
IPCC Commissioner Mary Cunneen said:
“I have met with Mr Rigg’s family and legal representatives to outline the remit of our review and the terms of reference have been agreed. A dedicated team of investigators, led by an experienced senior investigator, has already begun to consider the evidence and I will ensure this review is conducted as efficiently, but more importantly, as thoroughly as possible.
“If during the course of the review issues arise that require further evidence for me to consider previous decisions in relation to this case, the IPCC will consult with Mr Rigg’s family and his representatives, the MPS and any officer likely to be affected, to determine whether to re-open the investigation.
“We will continue to provide regular updates to Mr Rigg’s family and seek to address any questions they have.”