Senior Beds Police officer found to have committed gross misconduct after searching force database for details on individual

Bedfordshire Police
Bedfordshire Police

A Detective Chief Inspector for Bedfordshire Police was found to have committed gross misconduct after searching the force’s database for details about the ex-partner of a family member.

DCI Chris Beresford resigned from his role in February after 20 years’ service.

He was found to have breached professional standards and would have faced instant dismissal had he still have been a serving officer.

A special case hearing held at Bedfordshire Police HQ on Wednesday (8 August) heard how Beresford had accessed force computer systems outside of his role on numerous occasions between November 2015 and October 2016.

An investigation was launched in January by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Professional Standards Department which found he had accessed a crime report, custody record, case documents and a restraining order and sent emails to outside agencies and websites in relation to the ex-partner of a family member with no policing reason.

He was interviewed and subsequently criminally cautioned for two offences under the Data Protection Act and Computer Misuse Act.

Although Beresford had already resigned from the force, a decision was made in 2017 that all gross misconduct cases must continue to their conclusion.

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher chaired the misconduct hearing and formally dismissed Beresford, who did not attend the hearing but was represented by the Police Federation.

Mr Boutcher said: “Chris Beresford abused his position to repeatedly access personal information of an individual with no proper policing purpose. He accepted his criminal acts by accepting a criminal caution in May. Having looked at the circumstances of this case presented to me, I consider that he is fortunate not to have faced criminal charges.

“Police officers are trusted with access to a large amount of personal data and it is imperative that information is handled responsibly and appropriately.

“This was a breach of that trust and an abuse of his powers which let his colleagues down and could well damage the reputation of the force. Such behaviour has no place in policing and is gravely injurious to the relationship between the public and the police. It is in the public interest to ensure the swift and immediate cessation of the careers of any police officers who fail to live up to the high standards expected both by the organisation and the public in this regard.”