Former police officer sentenced for conspiracy

06/01/2012

A former Bedfordshire police officer found guilty of accessing sensitive information on police computers without a valid policing purpose has today been sentenced alongside her two conspirators.

Hannah Quince, aged 29, of Garfield Street, Bedford appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Friday 06 January 2012 where she was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment.  Her co-defendants, Christopher Shri, aged 30, of Little Headlands, Bedford and Ben Sturge, aged 30, of The Risings, Bedford were also sentenced to 9 months' imprisonment each.

Quince was found guilty on 13 December 2011 of conspiracy to commit an act of misconduct in a public office, and Shri and Sturge were found guilty of conspiring with her.

A jury at St Albans Crown Court found them guilty after a trial in which the court heard they had asked the former police officer to search police computers to find out what the force knew about Sturge's criminal activities.

The court was told that in November 2010, Quince's boyfriend Shri was associated with individuals suspected of serious criminal offences, and 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 surrendered for 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.

Quince resigned from Bedfordshire Police in January 2011 after being suspended from duty. She pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to possession of cocaine. She had been a police officer for six years, and was based at Luton Police Station.

Luke Bulpitt, Crown Advocate for the Complex Casework Unit at Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "As a result of her position as a police officer, Miss Quince was entrusted with access to sensitive information concerning police investigations.  She breached that trust by accessing that information and passing it on to those suspected of involvement in criminal offences.  She was specifically requested and encouraged to do this by Mr Shri and Mr Sturge who sought to gain an advantage from this information.

"Acts of this nature by police officers are extremely rare, but the prosecuting authorities recognise the potential for damage to the relationship between the police and the community it serves and, therefore, treat a case of this nature with the utmost seriousness.

"This thorough investigation and robust prosecution demonstrates that not only those who abuse their position as a police officer, but also those who conspire with them to do so, and seek to gain from their doing so will be pursued, prosecuted and punished.  The courts have repeatedly made clear the need for deterrent sentences in these cases and the sentences imposed today reflect that."