Herts police officer dismissed for ‘abuse of power’ after using database for personal benefit

PUBLISHED: 09:15 11 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:48 16 November 2020

Stevenage police station. Photo: DANNY LOO

Stevenage police station. Photo: DANNY LOO

Archant

A Hertfordshire police constable has been dismissed after he used a police database to find a person “entirely for his personal benefit and gain”.

PC Anthony Martin – who worked in Stevenage – was dismissed without notice on October 30 after a misconduct panel concluded accusations against him were proven and that this amounted to gross misconduct.

It was alleged that on February 11, 2019, PC Martin searched for a “Mr A’s” name on Fedsearch – a police system – and discovered their home address and also sought their photograph. He sent a series of WhatsApp messages to Mr A.

According to the misconduct panel, an officer accessing and using such information was not in the proper course of his police duties and this amounts to a breach of the Standard of Professional Behaviour relating to confidentiality,

It was an abuse of his powers or authority and, as such, also breached the Standard of Professional Behaviour in relation to authority, respect and courtesy.

The panel found that his actions were “deliberate, planned and targeted” and his misuse of Fedsearch “was entirely for his personal benefit and gain”.

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“This is absolutely prohibited in the guidance. There was onward disclosure of the information, albeit to Mr A, the person to whom it related,” the conclusion reads.

“PC Martin lied when telling Mr A where he got his address from and did not only discover Mr A’s address, but very sensitive matters about him, such as interactions with the police, were also retrieved by the search.”

The conclusion of the panel also stated this was “abuse of his power as a police officer” and a “significant deviation from his instructions”.

A spokesperson for Herts police said: “The public quite rightly expect that police only use their systems and access individual’s private information when undertaking policing duties.

“Exercising police powers comes with great responsibility and accountability and while the majority of officers and staff are hugely responsible, there are still those who disregard the rules and abuse their authority.

“Consistent training and guidance is given about appropriate use of police systems and no officer or member of staff can claim that they are not aware of the requirements around their use. Anthony Martin’s misuse of these systems was deliberate and he has paid the consequences by losing his job.”

Matthew McConville, of Irvings Law, represents the main complainant. His client will now be able to pursue his claim for compensation for PC Martin’s infringement of Mr McConville’s client’s human right to privacy, a breach of GDPR, a misuse of private information and misfeasance in public office. Mr McConville welcomes the decision of the panel and reiterates the words of them too in respect of what the public expect of serving Police Officers.


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