LONDON (Reuters Life!) - More than 1,000 serving police officers in Britain have criminal records, figures obtained under freedom of information laws showed on Wednesday.
Convictions of the 1,063 officers include 77 for violence, 36 for theft and 96 for dishonesty.
Five of these officers were reinstated by the Home Office after being sacked by their local forces.
More than half the convictions were for speeding, drink-driving or other motoring offences, according to the figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats from 41 of Britain’s 52 police forces.
Another 210 officers have been dismissed or been required to resign in the past five years because of their criminal convictions.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman Chris Huhne said officers convicted of violence or dishonesty should be dismissed immediately.
“A serving police officer is expected by members of the public to be self controlled and self restrained in the use of force,” Huhne told BBC television.
“If there is dishonesty, police offices can’t actually do their duty in giving evidence ... the defense would completely shred their credibility in court.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers said there were more than 140,000 officers in Britain and that it was very rare for anyone with a criminal conviction to be recruited.
“The police service expects good conduct and probity from its officers and staff at all times,” said Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Peter Fahy.
“Where wrongdoing is alleged, police officers are investigated and action taken as appropriate to each case.”
Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato