A disgraced police community support officer who raided a lock-up at his workplace and took mobile phones, watches and cigarettes with a view to selling them on has been jailed.
PCSO Craig Blackburn had spent 13 years with South Yorkshire Police but when he was spotted in one of the garages at Attercliffe Police Station after his work hours, his boss and colleagues became suspicious.
Detectives searched the pilfering cop’s home and car in October 2019 where they found a mobile phone reported lost and a Samsung tablet seized during a rape investigation.
Cigarettes and tobacco were also found and it later transpired he intended to sell them to help pay off his debts.
Blackburn, of Wilthorpe Avenue, Barnsley, admitted one count of handling stolen goods which were valued at around £1,500 in total.
Judge Jeremy Richardson, the Recorder of Sheffield, weighed up mitigating circumstances including his early guilty plea and the current plight of prisoners during the Covid pandemic.
He also noted how difficult any time in prison would be for a former serving police officer, but admitted he would be failing in his public duty if he suspended any sentence.
Sentencing Blackburn to six months in prison, Judge Richardson said:
“The property in question was worth approximately £1,500. It covered watches, cigarettes, tobacco and other items. The serious aspect of this case is that you were, at the relevant time in October 2019, the equivalent of a police officer.
“You were in fact a police community support officer. That is a position of considerable trust and responsibility within the police force.
“This case reveals a deplorable breach of trust by you, considerable trust as reposed in police officers and police community support officers. You breached that trust.
“It is always very serious when anyone considered to be in the administration of justice commits a crime associated with their work.
“The items you handled had been seized by police for a variety of purposes. They were stolen and you handled those items in order to sell them on, in order to solve your financial difficulties at the time.
“That may only be characterised as a public disgrace. The disgrace was yours. You must be punished.
He added: “Your status as a former police community support officer in prison will be a particularly disagreeable place for you.
“Prison will fall very hard indeed upon you.
“Anyone who works for the police force and abuses the trust in the way you did must be punished by being sent to prison.
“You should never have done what you did. It was a grotesque breach of trust and you are paying a terrible price for it.”