Former Bedfordshire police officer Hannah Quince has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after being found guilty offences of wilful misconduct in public office.
Two other defendants, Christopher Shri and Ben Sturge, were also jailed for nine months each after being found guilty of conspiring with her.
â€œThe public rightly expects very high standards of honesty from police officers.â€
Quince (29), of Garfield Street, Bedford, her boyfriend Shri (30) of Little Headlands, Bedford and Shri’s friend Ben Sturge (30) of The Risings, Bedford were found guilty at St Albans Crown Court in December.
The jury had heard during the trial how the two men had asked the former police officer to search police computers to find out what the force knew about Sturge’s criminal activities.
Quince also received a sentence of one month to run concurrently for a separate offence of possessing cocaine, to which she had pleaded guilty an earlier hearing.
Quince resigned from Bedfordshire Police in January 2011 after being suspended from duty. She had been a police officer for six years, and was based at Luton Police station.
The court was told that in November 2010, Quince’s boyfriend Shri was closely associated with individuals suspected of serious criminal offences. Shri’s lifelong friend Sturge was wanted for questioning at the time about his alleged part in a conspiracy to possess a firearm.
The Crown successfully showed that in the days immediately before Sturge’s arrest for the firearms offence, Quince had accessed sensitive information from police computers which would have given Sturge a significant advantage in his subsequent police interviews. This information was passed back to Sturge via Shri.
Following the sentencing, Bedfordshire ACC Andrew Richer said: “The custodial sentence given reflects the serious nature of the offences Quince, in particular, has been convicted of. The public rightly expects very high standards of honesty from police officers.”
“Our officers and staff strive to deliver an excellent service to the community and they are genuinely shocked when incidents such as this are uncovered. Although such incidents are rare, it is often the vigilance of other colleagues that starts an investigation into unlawful conduct.”
“This investigation was undertaken by the Anti-Corruption Unit, which proactively seeks out illegal activity by any police employees. The force constantly monitors use of IT systems to detect suspicious activity and will deal robustly with individuals who chose to access sensitive information without a valid policing purpose.”
After concluding the sentencing hearing, His Honour Judge Bright commended DI Graham Smith, DS Steve Winser and DC Dave Davies of the Anti-Corruption Unit for the standard of their investigation.
Ex-Beds Officer Jailed