POLICE OFFICER USED FORCE COMPUTERS TO GET INFORMATION ON WOMEN LIKE AN 'ELECTRONIC PEEPING TOM'
A police officer's 21-year career lies in ruins after he misused force computers like an "electronic peeping Tom" to get information about women he was interested in.
Andrew Clay, 50, who has now left Leicestershire Police, was given an eight month jail sentence suspended for a year.
He was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £800 costs.
The disgraced former constable admitted six counts of securing unauthorised access to computer material, between September 2002 and March 2013, Leicester Crown Court was told Clay worked in the North West Leicestershire area, including Ashby de la Zouch, Coalville and surrounding villages. Five counts related to seeking information about women he was either in a relationship with, or wanted to be, including one police officer. The sixth offence involved seeking information about alleged sex offences in the North West Leicestershire area.
Judge Nicholas Dean QC told Clay: "Things you've valued you've lost now through your own stupidity. The real punishment is the loss of your reputation and career. You joined the police in 1994 after a career in the forces and you've spent your adult life serving the community. For an extensive period of time, approximately the last 10 years, you abused your position as a police officer to access sensitive information meant to be used solely in criminal investigations. The reasons you did so seem to be obscure, but not sinister, and on the whole you accessed information connected with relationships you'd formed and continued further, or relationships you wanted to form. That was very wrong of you – but I accept you weren't accessing it to supply to the criminal fraternity or for nefarious purposes."
The judge went on to say: "Those dealing with the police are entitled to believe their information is treated appropriately. It's serious because it affects the integrity of the police force as a whole and undermines the confidence the public usually have, and should have, in the police."
Alan Murphy, prosecuting, said that Clay, having researched matters such as domestic violence complaints and background information, was reported to the Professional Standards Division and an audit was carried out on the Leicestershire Police Crime and Intelligence system. He said: "PC Clay was fully aware of the limitations on using the computers." The police identified "multiple occasions" when he accessed intelligence data systems clearly for personal use and he was arrested on May 14. He claimed to have been "nothing more than curious." Mr Murphy said: "He knew each time he accessed the system he'd leave an electronic footprint but, notwithstanding that, over a number of years he accessed the police intelligence systems to effectively monitor women he knew." In relation to the count involving sex offenders, in the Ashby area, near where he lived, there was no evidence confidential information from trawls was used. The term used by one of the investigating officers describing his activities was "electronic peeping Tom."
Jonathan Cox, mitigating for Clay of, Chapel Rise, Worthington, said: "He did very little with the information he obtained by the systems. He was seeking companionship, but going about it in an unprofessional manner and one of the individuals was distressed when she found out about it."
Details from Leicester Mercury