A former Metropolitan Police officer has been jailed for 10 months for stealing £1,500 from a safe at an east London police station.
Bradley Francis, 35, resigned as a police constable as he was to face a misconduct hearing, after his theft from the safe at Stoke Newington police station in April was uncovered.
He gave no reaction as Judge Martin Griffith, sentencing at London’s Southwark Crown Court, told him that no officer should “consider themselves above the law”.
Francis had lost his career, marriage and home for a “ridiculous” theft at a time when his family would have stepped in to help him pay a credit card debt.
The judge also told him: “The public have to have confidence that the police will apply the law to themselves and not consider themselves above the law.
“The public should have absolute faith and trust in their police officers and that is quite right, I’m afraid you have let that down.”
Francis stood quietly in the dock as the judge told him: “It is a great shame you threw away the career you loved, your good character, your marriage and all that because you chose a ridiculous way out (of) your financial affairs.”
Francis, of Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, had pleaded guilty to theft by employee after stealing approximately £1,500 from a safe at Stoke Newington police station on April 12 while he was a serving officer.
CCTV footage showed Francis spending a “rather long time” at the safe and covering his actions with a fleece before locking the safe and moving away from it, prosecutor Gregor McKinley said.
The cash was public money which was part of an ongoing intent-to-supply investigation.
He had put £50 in to the safe but that had been just a “pretext” to enable him to get the keys and see what was inside, the prosecution said.
Within 30 minutes of the theft Francis had paid off a £1,500 credit card bill, but by this time he had already breached a high degree of trust and responsibility via his crime, which took “some degree of planning”, Mr McKinley said.
The only person who had access to that safe at that time was Francis.
The judge told Francis that his “pride” had stopped him from asking for help from his father, who was willing to find him work at the family firm when he gets out of jail, which could have helped him to avoid prison.
The judge said: “If only you hadn’t had a matter of pride, that you were going to ask them (your family), and instead of which you were going to steal from a police safe where you found £1,500 – you wouldn’t be standing here.”
Francis, who has no previous convictions, was ordered to pay £1,500 compensation.
John Greany, defending, said that once Francis knew he was facing charges and possibly jail he realised “he was going to lose his job whatever he did and he had the decency to resign”.
He added: “This was a stupid and desperate act by an officer who was until then a very good one.”
Francis used the money to pay a £1,500 credit card debt and his crime was “not offending motivated by greed” or of a man who was “trying to live the high life”.
Mr Greany said Francis had been “a well-regarded officer” who has now lost his “career, his previous good character and he has damaged his good name”.
If he had “cried out for help from his family” then “all this could have been avoided”, he added.
After the hearing, Superintendent Mike Hamer, acting commander for policing in Tower Hamlets and Hackney, said: “An investigation was launched as soon as the discovery was made and Pc Francis was quickly identified.
“He has now rightly been held to account for his actions, which fell far below the standards I expect of my officers in the Central East Command Unit.
“Dishonesty within the Metropolitan Police Service will absolutely not be tolerated.”
He said Francis, who was suspended from duty after his arrest, will now be added to the barred list held by the College of Policing.
Anyone who appears on the list cannot work for the police, local policing bodies, the Independent Office for Police Conduct or for His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.