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Southwark PC jailed

A police officer based at Southwark police station in Borough High Street was jailed for six months on Friday after pleading guilty last month at the Old Bailey to misconduct in a public office.

PC Leigh Harrington was arrested on 20 March 2002 and charged on 9 August 2002 with indecent assault, following an allegation by a 28 year old Southwark woman. She was a rape victim and PC Harrington was involved in the investigation.

The investigation was led by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards. It was supervised by the independent Police Complaints Authority.

A charge of misconduct in a public office was added when PC Harrington first appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court on 16 August, 2002.

At court in October 2003 he pleaded  not guilty to the indecent assault charge.  It was laid on file.

Sentencing was adjourned to today.

PC Harrington was suspended from duty with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 21 March 2002. He will now face a MPS disciplinary hearing.

The court placed reporting restrictions on the victims identity.

Ch Supt Ian Thomas, Southwark Borough Commander, said: "The allegations against Leigh Harrington were serious.  He was appointed to chaperone a 28 year old woman, who had reported a serious sexual offence to police.  This is a very sensitive role, demanding the highest standard of integrity from specially selected and trained officers.

"PC Harrington failed to carry out his legal responsibilities by becoming inappropriately involved with a victim of crime at a time when she was at her most vulnerable. In so doing, he compromised the trust placed in him by the individual concerned, his police colleagues and the wider community.

"Prompt action to investigate the allegation and bring it to court, shows that we in the MPS are committed to maintaining the highest possible standards throughout the service.

"We have worked tirelessly to gain the trust of victims of sexual crime, here in Southwark and across London. Confidence amongst victims is a major factor in taking a case to court.

"I know that, each and every day, our officers are jealously guarding that trust
"We will not tolerate any misconduct or lack of professionalism from any officers as this undermines the good work of their colleagues and betrays the trust of the public."

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