Officer faces sack threat after accessing sensitive information to `check on partners`

A police officer faces the threat of being dismissed after using his force’s intelligence system to gather information about two of his partners and their ex-boyfriends over more than a decade.

Sep 28, 2017

A police officer faces the threat of being dismissed after using his force’s intelligence system to gather information about two of his partners and their ex-boyfriends over more than a decade. Police Constable Grant McCabe, 43, admitted to seven counts of breaching the Data Protection Act, and seven more of causing a computer to function to enable unauthorised access to data. He was sentenced to a nine-month suspended prison sentence at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday (September 27), and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. Judge Clement Goldstone told PC McCabe he had damaged the reputation of Merseyside Police with his “curiosity”. The former Royal Navy intelligence officer used the force`s Niche computer system to make searches on his current partner “to check if she was a suitable companion” in the early stages of their relationship, the court heard. Prosecuting, Nick Cockrell said many of the offences related to a woman PC McCabe began a relationship with in 2005, who he met while arresting a man over a domestic disturbance. “As a result of investigations into the defendant’s computer activity, between October 2007 and November 2016, a computer audit found he had accessed personal data upon Merseyside Police systems,” he added. “Generally speaking he was making checks upon people known to him through his personal circumstances.” After the relationship broke down he began a new one in 2016, and on one occasion found the address of her ex-boyfriend, before checking where he lived on Google. “If curiosity may kill the cat, it’s a miracle it didn’t kill this relationship,” Judge Goldstone said after hearing about PC McCabe’s checks on his current partner. Mr Cockrell said there was no suggestion that the officer used the information to cause any harm to the individuals involved, and had not attempted to interfere with any police investigations. Representing PC McCabe, Julian Nutter said: “There are far worse examples than this [of police misconduct]. This is a man who has retained his basic integrity, he’s not gone bent in the sense of the rotten apple. He deeply regrets his actions and will not trouble the courts again.” Sentencing PC McCabe, Judge Goldstone said: “Any impropriety undermines trust and confidence that the public have in the force. “Quite simply, there is no place for you or someone like you in the police in general, or in Merseyside Police in particular, which strives to ensure that the right people are recruited and strives to ensure that trust in police can be gained and retained. “Nobody knows better than you how fragile in Merseyside that trust can be and the massive harm that can be done to the organisation’s exercise of gaining the public’s trust.” He added: “I just wonder how you, Grant McCabe, would have felt if you knew or came to realise that someone, with no right to the information, was finding out about the many skeletons which there are now in your cupboard. You would be appalled, and rightly so.” A force spokesperson said PC McCabe will face a misconduct hearing at a date as yet not determined.

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