Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Huge probe as senior British crimes scene officer is arrested: 90 cases over last decade 'could be tainted'

A senior crime scene investigator was at the centre of a major police investigation last night over claims he 'undermined' dozens of cases. Stephen Beattie, a civilian member of staff, was arrested and bailed by officers on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and theft.

Senior detectives are now reviewing at least 90 cases involving the married 48-year-old which date back over the last decade. The majority of the cases relate to suspicious or sudden deaths and could have resulted in several miscarriages of justice, police confirmed.

One investigation, involving a sudden death, has already been reopened by detectives and there are fears others will begin to unravel.

By the time Beattie was arrested in May last year, he was crime scene manager for Cleveland Police.

Steve Matthews, Chairman of the Cleveland Police Federation, said: 'My concern is that the police officers I represent have gone through a great deal of time and effort to investigate and convict people. These cases could unravel because of this. 'I would also hate to see innocent people in prison who should not have been convicted or those whose convictions may be rendered unsafe.'

All those affected have been informed of Beattie's arrest in writing and are being kept informed of the investigation's progress.

Beattie worked for Staffordshire Police from 1996 to 2002, Northumbria Police for a short period in 2002 and Cleveland Police from 2002 to 2011. He was suspended in February 2011 and arrested in May.

An investigation was then launched by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the three forces involved.

Both Staffordshire and Northumbria police forces conducted a review of his work and identified no cause for concern. But an internal review of his work by Cleveland Police highlighted 120 suspicious cases.

The force has since narrowed that number down to focus on 90 but has admitted there could be more.

It has set up a special phone line to address the concerns of other people they have not yet been in touch with.

Detective Inspector Warren Shepheard, from Cleveland Police's investigation team, said: 'Our priority has been to identify whether there have been any issues of concern about the man's work on the incidents he attended during his time with Cleveland Police.'

Staffordshire Police said it had submitted an investigation report, which is currently being considered by the IPCC.

IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: 'The allegations are serious and had the potential to impact a large number of investigations.

'The number has been narrowed significantly by the work already undertaken. As this remains a criminal investigation we do not intend to go into specific detail about cases at this stage.'

Original report here

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