Tayside and Central Scotland

Tayside Police officer Karen Howie jailed for data leak

Police officer
Image caption Howie admitted two charges of perverting the course of justice and breaching the Data Protection Act

A former police constable who admitted leaking sensitive information has been sentenced to 27 months in jail.

Karen Howie, 34, of Carnoustie, gave the data to her lover, who then tipped off a suspect in a criminal investigation.

She was working at Kirriemuir police office when the crime was committed, but has since resigned from the force.

Howie had admitted two charges of perverting the course of justice when she appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court.

She also admitted breaching the Data Protection Act by accessing police computer systems in August 2009, to uncover details of an ongoing investigation into a counterfeiting operation.

Her co-accused, Neil Hand, 44, admitted one charge under the Data Protection Act.

The court heard he had contacted a suspect in the counterfeiting investigation following calls from Howie, who had accessed crime reports.

Procurator fiscal Catriona Dalrymple said: "The circumstances came to light with the apprehension of an individual in Arbroath in relation to counterfeit currency.

"He gave specialist information regarding a serving police officer.

"It was clear that he was trying to use this information as leverage."

'Collective dismay'

The suspect identified Howie and an investigation by the force discovered she had looked at information relating to him on "several occasions".

Speaking after the sentencing, Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie, in charge of professional standards for Tayside Police, said corrupt officers had "no place" in the force.

"It's disappointing that on occasion we find ourselves with individuals who want to discredit the reputation of the force and their colleagues," he added.

"Criminal behaviour of this nature is exceptionally rare and the vast majority of our police officers and police staff act with integrity and honesty day in and day out.

"Our collective dismay at this case is only tempered by our resolve to ensure that we continue to investigate every allegation of wrongdoing and retain public trust and confidence."

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