Police officers convicted of serious violent offences are continuing to serve, it has emerged.
Dozens of officers at a single force are patrolling the streets despite convictions for gun crimes, actual bodily harm, theft and other offences.
Many of the crimes took place while the officers were in post, raising concerns about a fall in police standards.
Last night MPs questioned whether courts could trust evidence from officers with serious convictions, and condemned the “deeply unfair” policies that allowed the officers to keep their jobs .
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Figures released by Hampshire Police showed that its 4,000 serving officers had accumulated 42 convictions, including affray, benefit fraud, drunk and disorderly conduct and possessing cannabis plants. If the figures are extrapolated, it would suggest that there are 1,580 convictions among the 144,000 police in England and Wales.
Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat justice spokesman who uncovered the figures, said: “The public will be rightly concerned that there are serving police officers who have committed crimes as serious as assault and firearms offences.
“Serious questions arise over whether the criminal courts can trust the evidence given by police officers who have committed benefit fraud.”