Ex-PC jailed for tipping off criminals

Rebecca Swanston Picture: Jamie Lorriman/Solent News & Photo Agency
Rebecca Swanston Picture: Jamie Lorriman/Solent News & Photo Agency
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A corrupt police officer was today jailed for three years for leaking confidential information to four different criminals she was having sex with.

Disgraced PC Rebecca Swanston, 28, passed the police intelligence and tactics to men ‘heavily involved’ in class A drug supply.

She sabotaged her own force’s investigations and stopped them catching offenders, Winchester Crown Court heard.

The Hampshire Constabulary officer, from Portsmouth, allowed one dealer to leave a ‘massive bag’ of crack cocaine and heroin on a table at her house.

She failed to report confessions made to her by the men, including details of a vicious machete attack and the kidnapping of a wealthy businessman.

The court also heard she told the men that police were out looking for them and suggested to one that he get rid of his mobile phone.

She allowed one man to keep two of her police-issue T-shirts and may even have had sex with one while on duty, the court heard.

The constable was warned about her relationships with criminals after a photograph of her with one of them was spotted on a website.

Hampshire Constabulary launched an anti-corruption probe into her behaviour and installed a listening bug at her home in Southampton, Hampshire.

It recorded her discussing police operations with the criminals – and even having sex with some of them.

Text messages suggest she had sex with at least one dealer while on duty, the court heard.

In one recording she is heard to say: ‘(He) comes around here with a massive bag filled with crack and heroin and just leaves it on the table.

‘That’s mad, innit? That’s how much he trusts me. I wouldn’t ever say...’

And in another she says: ‘While I’ve been with him, he’s been wanted for a stabbing. He’s told me everything the night it happened.’

Swanston – who was based at Southampton Central Police Station – was arrested during a raid on her house on October 18 last year.

One of the dealers was even there at the time.

Prosecutor Zoe Martin said: ‘Between January and October 2012, the defendant was involved in intimate relationships with a number of active criminals in the Southampton area, and passed confidential information to some of them.

‘At least two of the men concerned confessed their participation in serious crime to her while they were wanted or on police bail for the offences in question.

‘In due course, PC Swanston’s conduct came to the attention of the Professional Standard’s Anti-Corruption Unit and was investigated.

‘As a result, she was arrested on October 18 and interviewed under caution.

‘She made no comment in interview, but admitted gross misconduct in the fast-track disciplinary proceedings that then followed.

‘She was dismissed from the force without notice on November 27, 2012.’

Swanston today admitted three counts of misconduct in a public office over ten months, between January and October last year.

During this time she logged onto the police’s Records Management System - which contained information about criminals and operations – over 250 times.

The court heard most of these ‘appeared to be improper use’.

Swanston became a police officer in February 2009 and was dismissed in November 2012 after the misconduct hearing.

The court heard one case in which she was to be a significant witness was dropped because the CPS considered her tainted.

One of the defendants in that case later went on to supply drugs to a person who died as a result.

Matthew Jewell, defending, said Swanston was embarrassed officers had ‘eavesdropped on her most intimate moments.’

And he added: ‘The defendant is remorseful. She entered these relationships and found herself unable to bring them to an end.

‘She was not doing this for financial gain.’

Jailing Swanston for three years, Judge Jane Miller QC said: ‘You embarked on a course of self-destructive behaviour, starting relationships with not just one man known to be a criminal but four different men.

‘All were heavily involved in hard, class A drug supply.

‘Once in these relationships, you started on a course of criminal behaviour yourself. You knew what you were doing and you made your own choices.

‘Your offences have damaged police operations and significantly so.

‘You did not have to pass on police information as a result of your sexual relationships.’

Swanston was originally arrested in October 2012 along with another female police constable, aged 29.

This officer was released with no further action in November but resigned after receiving a final written warning following misconduct proceedings in March.

Four men arrested at the same time last October in connection with the investigation were released with no further action.

Detective Superintendent Colin Smith, head of Hampshire Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department, said: ‘Rebecca Swanston’s corrupt behaviour and reckless associations with known criminals went totally and utterly against the values of honesty and integrity required of her as a police officer.

‘Former PC Swanston’s behaviour is in no way typical of Hampshire Constabulary employees.’