Forensic specialist admits misconduct over crime scene images
A former Staffordshire Police member of staff who unlawfully accessed and stored images of dead bodies on his personal computer has admitted misconduct in public office.
Darren Collins, 56, of Stafford, a digital forensic specialist, admitted accessing more than 3,000 images between January 2014 and December 2018 when he appeared at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday ( November 9).
A number of the images downloaded were official police photographs of crime scenes and post-mortems, which are taken to provide evidence of scenes that 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.
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 January 7, 2022.