Police Digital Service pair arrested for fraud, bribery and misconduct

Both the specialist policing tech unit, which is collectively owned by forces across the country, and the City of London Police have confirmed the apprehension and investigation of two people

Two employees of the Police Digital Service have been arrested and are now being investigated by officers on suspicion of having committed crimes of fraud, bribery, and misconduct in a public office.

The arrest of the pair – names and other details of whom have not been provided – was confirmed by both the Police Digital Service (PDS) and the City of London Police, which is conducting the investigation.

In a statement, PDS said: “[The employees] have been suspended from work pending the outcome of the police investigation, and an employee misconduct review is being conducted by an independent HR consultancy. Given the seriousness of the issues raised, a thorough review of PDS will be undertaken. The company’s work continues unaffected. We are unable to comment further at this stage.”

No additional details on the allegations or the nature of the offences for which the duo have been arrested have yet been given. But the City of London force has indicated that it is “conducting an investigation into alleged criminal conduct of two people employed by the Police Digital Service”.

The investigation – dubbed Operation Albaston – is listed on policing’s UK-wide Major Incident Public Portal, where members of the public can report crimes or provide details on ongoing investigations.

PDS was established as the Police ICT Company in 2012. It is jointly owned by the 43 local and regional police forces across England and Wales, alongside the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police, the College of Policing, and the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.

PDS had responsibility for overseeing delivery of the former National Policing Digital Strategy, as well as creating nationwide technology procurement vehicles. The organisation’s website describes its remit as being to help forces “keep up with technology and business changes [and] develop capabilities and ways of working that will enable them to adapt to and deal with the complexity of modern criminality”.

Its most annual report, for the 2023 fiscal year, shows that the organisation’s headcount more than doubled during the year to a total of 184. Its turnover grew by almost £20m year-on-year, to an annual total of £73.1m.

Its recent initiatives include an exploration of analytics and automation tools that it was hoped could be used in rape and sexual assault investigations to analyse text and “identify predatory behaviours”. A year ago, PDS also created a £30m deal to establish and implement an IT system to support forces across the country and national bodies with live investigations and decision-making processes during major serious crime and anti-terror operations.

As well neighbourhood policing of the City of London area itself, the local force also serves as the national lead law-enforcement agency for several areas – including fraud and intellectual-property offences.

Sam Trendall

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