PCSO convicted of unauthorised access to computer material
A police community support officer (PCSO) accused of unauthorised access to computer material has been found guilty following a trial at Preston Crown Court.
PCSO Mark Turner, of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), was alleged to have accessed details of a domestic abuse incident for a woman he met on duty.
He denied the charge under section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990, but was found guilty on Wednesday (June 7) and ordered to pay a £2,000 fine and £2,000 costs by the court.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) had investigated the 38-year-old’s contact with three women he met in the course of his duties following a referral from GMP in January 2020.
“We found evidence that one of the women he was in contact with asked for information about a domestic incident, which she was not involved in, and that PCSO Turner accessed the relevant log,” said the IOPC.
“When interviewed by investigators, he argued he had a policing purpose for doing so. However, our investigation found no evidence of any legitimate purpose for his actions.”
On conclusion of the investigation in March 2020, the IOPC referred a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, which authorised charges in October 2020.
IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “Despite claiming otherwise, PCSO Turner had no justification for accessing information about a police incident after being asked by a member of the public for ‘insider info’.
“As the judge remarked, the evidence against him was overwhelming and yet he continued to insist he had done nothing wrong.
“His lack of judgment and professionalism was a serious breach of the trust placed in the police by the public. Our investigation ensured he was held accountable for his actions and he now has a criminal record as a result.
“Our investigation also found PCSO Turner should face a gross misconduct hearing in relation to his contact with two women, which is a matter for GMP to arrange.”
The IOPC said on conclusion of the investigation, it found PCSO Turner had a case to answer for gross misconduct for alleged breaches of the police staff standards of professional behaviour with respect to discreditable conduct, confidentiality and work and responsibilities.