An incident which saw a West Midlands counter terrorism chief sacked after classified documents were stolen from his car was "both embarrassing and damaging," according to the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Senior officer Marcus Beale was sacked earlier this year after a briefcase containing classified information was stolen from his car.
The incident, which happened between May 10 and May 15, 2017, saw a secure metal briefcase containing security marked documentation stolen from a police vehicle.
No arrests were made relating to the offence, and none of the stolen documents have ever been recovered by police.
Following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police, Mr Beale pleaded guilty to offences under the Official Secrets Act at Westminster Magistrates Court, and was fined £3,500.
He was later dismissed by Chief Constable David Thompson following a misconduct hearing.
And, speaking at today's Strategic Policing and Crime Board (SPCB), Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson said it's important to learn from mistakes such as this.
"When things go seriously wrong it is only right that organisations are held to account in public. That is what I am doing here," he said.
“This incident has been both damaging and embarrassing.
"The public don’t expect any public body, including police, to get everything right, and mistakes are made.
"But the public also like to know what is being done about it, and what learning has taken place from the particular incident.
"The way to make sure the same mistakes aren’t made again and improve procedures is not to hide away, but to bring them out into the public eye."
The investigation made three recommendations to West Midlands Police to prevent such an event reoccurring.
- West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit to review the process and handling of sensitive documents.
- Review of secure metal briefcase practice, and how they are secured to cater for all reasonably foreseeable contingencies that may occur during transit.
- Review if Counter Terrorism staff are sufficiently aware of the GSC 2014 handling instructions through a process of regular organisational learning updates.
During the meeting the board heard from George Tracey, of the counter-terrorism unit, who said that the incident had been "highly regrettable and deeply embarrassing," for the force.
He added that he had a "high level of confidence that this was a one-off occasion," following an in-depth review of procedures surrounding the handling of confidential documents. He also said that lessons had been learned from the incident.
West Midlands Police also referred the case to the Information Commissioner's Office, whose report "acknowledged that West Midlands Police has implemented measures to reduce the likelihood of a reoccurrence of a similar event.
"The final outcome of the report was that no formal enforcement action would be taken against West Midlands Police owing to the remedial work undertaken.
"However, the report did strongly recommend West Midlands Police to continue with their work to raise staff awareness and training."