A SENIOR member of civilian staff at Cleveland Police has been suspended from her role overseeing its standards and ethics.

The force would not confirm the identity of the suspended manager but it is believed to be Cristiana Emsley, the first non-warranted director of its standards and ethics department.

Ms Emsley, pictured below, was drafted in by the force after it disbanded its discredited professional standards department following a number of scandals, including the unlawful use of ‘snooping’ legislation to access data of two Northern Echo reporters.

The Northern Echo:

The investigation, which is not criminal at this stage, will be conducted by Cleveland Police at this time, but not by staff within the Directorate of Standards and Ethics (DSE).

Confirming the suspension, a Cleveland Police spokesperson said: “We can confirm that on June 26 a senior member of police staff was suspended. Suspension is a neutral act.

"As a misconduct investigation is ongoing, and in line with national guidance, it would not be appropriate to say more at this time.”

Barry Coppinger, the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “On behalf of the public of Cleveland, I have been assured by the Chief Constable that Cleveland Police has taken the lawful and appropriate steps in these circumstances. I will continue to seek such assurance.”

The Northern Echo:

The Independent Office for Police Conduct confirmed that it has been made aware of the ongoing investigation but is presently not involved.

A spokesperson said: “Cleveland Police have informed us that a member of staff has been suspended. We have not yet received a referral regarding this matter, but we are aware that the force is considering if one is required.”

In January 2017, the-then Chief Constable Iain Spittal announced that the professional standards department (PSD), which investigates complaints, misconduct allegations and wrongdoing amongst officers, would be disbanded.

The move came after a panel of top judges has ruled that Cleveland Police acted unlawfully when it monitored the phones of Northern Echo journalists to track down a series of embarrassing leaks.

Last December, two senior police officers had their suspensions lifted after being investigated in connection with the phone 'snooping' inquiry.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jon Green, who was the force’s head of crime, and Superintendent Bev Gill, the former lead officer in its professional standards department, were suspended earlier last year after being served with misconduct notices by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The force is still subject of another IOPC investigation under the Operation Forbes banner, which is looking at complaints linked to how the force carried out an Equality Review in 2011.