A POLICE officer who stashed hundreds of indecent images of children on his computer and used his position to send inappropriate text messages to vulnerable women, has been branded a disgrace by the force’s Deputy Chief Constable.
South Yorkshire Police DCC Andrew Holt said a ‘vigorous’ internal inquiry had uncovered Lee Lucas’ actions.
Lucas, a PC who was formally based at Rotherham’s Main Street police station, has admitted misconduct in a public office. He also pleaded guilty to making indecent images of children at Sheffield Crown Court today.
Lucas, who has been a PC with the force since July 2010, pleaded guilty to the offences following an operation by South Yorkshire Police.
In October 2013, the force’s professional standards department launched Operation Pigeon, an internal investigation exploring whether any officers were abusing their position by contacting vulnerable members of the public. The investigation identified excessive and unexplained contact between Lucas and eight women during 2013.
The women were vulnerable members of the public who had contacted the police in relation to various incidents including harassment, domestic abuse and other crimes.
Lucas met them when he was deployed to incidents involving the women. The investigation revealed that he maintained contact with the complainants, sharing thousands of text messages with them and also visiting some of them at their homes.
Investigators found that many of the text messages sent by Lucas had been “inappropriate, suggestive and flirtatious”.
In December 2013, officers searched Lucas’ home and seized his police phone, his personal mobile phone and his computer hard drive. When police examined his computer, around 1,400 indecent images of children were discovered.
Lucas, 39, pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office and eight counts of making indecent images of children.
Deputy Chief Contestable Andy Holt said: “Lee Lucas is quite simply a disgrace and his actions will disgust all members of the force.
“South Yorkshire Police deal robustly with these offences and it is worthy of note that his actions were uncovered in an internal inquiry and this has been pursued vigorously through to a criminal prosecution.
“We recognise the bravery of the victims who had the courage to testify against him.”
Lucas was suspended from his duties on 17 December 2013. He remains on suspension and will appear before the Chief Constable for a special case hearing, where his future with the force will be determined.
Lucas will be sentenced on 21 December at Sheffield Crown Court.
Operation Pigeon, which was supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was established by South Yorkshire Police following concerns raised nationally about officers abusing their positions to contact vulnerable people.
As well as Lucas, two other South Yorkshire Police officers were identified as having inappropriate contact with vulnerable members of the public. They were dismissed from the force following misconduct hearings.