THE two senior officers suspended from Cleveland Police include its most high-ranking detective – the force’s head of crime, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jon Green, and Superintendent Bev Gill can now be named as the officers suspended in the wake of an investigation into unlawfully spying on journalists’ and officers’ phones.

Supt Gill was already suspended once amid concerns she failed to take action over sex pest former inspector Simon Hurwood, who was found guilty allegations of gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing last year. An inquiry found he had plagued 21 colleagues – many of them of junior rank – for sex over a 14-year period.

The Northern Echo:

The latest inquiry relates to the fact the force was found to have acted unlawfully by a panel of High Court judges in 2017 for using anti-terror and serious crime legislation to track down the source of media leaks to The Northern Echo.

Now Det Ch Supt Green and Supt Gill (above) – both former heads of the force’s professional standards department – have been suspended in the wake of a gross misconduct investigation by police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has pledged to raise the problems at the force with the Home Secretary once again.

The Conservative Mayor, whose election pledges included a wide-ranging review of Cleveland Police, said: “It’s a tragic but unsurprising irony that Cleveland Police’s Head of Crime has been suspended, along with another superintendent.

“Yet again we see Cleveland Police in the papers for all the wrong reasons.

“Local people deserve nothing less than a police force that is fit for purpose, but clearly senior management and the elected police commissioner are failing in their duty.

“I will again raise the ongoing problems at Cleveland Police with the Home Secretary because something drastically needs to be done.”

West Midlands Police is carrying out the inquiry on behalf of the IOPC, regarding the misuse of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), under which officers can access call records to detect serious crime or terrorism.

Two officers, Mark Dias and Steve Matthews, then the chair of Cleveland Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, and a Federation solicitor also had their phone records searched by the force in a bid to track down the source. It has since emerged that journalists from the Press Association were also targeted.

A linked inquiry running into racial discrimination faced by former VIP protection officer PC Nadeem Saddique, who won an employment tribunal against the force, is now complete and a final report due out soon.

The IOPC said it was a ‘complex, multi-strand operation’ which involved a considerable amount of evidence.