THE police force that covers Herefordshire has remained tight-lipped after a nationwide investigation found more than a thousand police employees have been arrested in recent years.

The investigation found rape, stalking, death by dangerous driving, GBH and burglary are among the string of crimes staff from other force areas have been apprehended over.

According to figures from 30 forces across the country, the equivalent of at least six force employees a week have been arrested between 2015 and May 2019.

A request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was received by West Mercia Police on April 23, asking for the number of officers arrested over the last four years, as well as information including outcomes of any criminal investigations.

However, David Cole, supervisor in the constabulary's Information Compliance Unit, said the it was was "not obliged to provide the information request".

He said the Act states if the authority "estimates that the cost of complying" would "exceed the 'appropriate limit'" – which is £450 or 18 hours of work – it is exempt.

"The information you have requested is not available in a readily retrievable format," he continued.

"Unfortunately, due to the volume of records that would need to be reviewed I am unable to identify information that could be supplied within the fees limit.

"Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is as accurate as possible," he added.

A Staffordshire Police Officer, who kept his job despite being jailed over the death of a shopkeeper, is among more than a thousand police employees to have been arrested in recent years.

Jason Bannister was jailed for 18 months after killing popular shopkeeper Balvinder Singh while driving dangerously in December 2016.

Bannister is one of at least 48 members of staff who were imprisoned, with sentences totting up to more than 56 years collectively.

He was banned from driving and issued with a final written warning by his force following the incident, but was retained in service.

Phil Matthews, conduct lead for the Police Federation, said the figures reflected efforts by the police to weed out a minority of criminals in their ranks.

He said a culture of heightened scrutiny could have also contributed, adding: "We are a reflection of society so we will get one or two who are corrupt or attempting to get into the force to get some criminal gain from it.

"If someone working for the police is accused of something in a criminal case, they are much more likely to be charged and sent to court than a member of the public.

"That's because, in my experience, we want to weed wrongdoing out and prove that we're not trying to look after our own.

"There are one or two real bad people that get into policing for malicious endeavours deliberately and are there to subvert and I have no qualms at all about them going to prison."

Also among the arrests disclosed to and analysed by Newsquest's Data Investigations Unit were more than 300 violent offences, 140 sex crimes, including 12 rapes, and at least 100 traffic offences.