By Sandra Laville
A police community support officer was jailed for seven years on Tuesday for repeatedly targeting vulnerable women for sex while on duty.
Peter Bunyan was convicted at Taunton crown court on eight counts of misconduct in public office. It emerged after his conviction that Bunyan, 40, had been a police officer for the Hampshire force in the late 1990s but resigned from the force under a cloud in 1996.
He was hired in 2003 as a PCSO by Devon and Cornwall police. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is managing an inquiry by the professional standards department of the Devon and Cornwall force into what was known about his past when he was recruited.
Bunyan was found guilty of neglecting his duties by turning his police radio down on shifts before having sex with women, including once at a police neighbourhood office, as well as encouraging one mentally ill woman to send explicit pictures of herself on email to the police station.
One source close to the case said there were management and supervision issues to answer within Devon and Cornwall police as Bunyan's absences from duty were so frequent alarm bells should have rung.
The offences took place in the Camborne and Redruth areas of west Cornwall over a five-year period. Bunyan admitted having sex with four of the women, but said it was in his own time. All five women said the sex was consensual, although the court heard that some of the witnesses had mental health problems.
Bunyan, who is expected to be sacked on Wednesday, faced 12 counts of alleged misconduct in public office for engaging in sexual relationships with five women; sending sexualised text messages to one woman; accessing the police records of six women and two men; accessing computer records and passing it onto two other individuals, and obtaining a loan of money. Questions still remain over what Devon and Cornwall police knew about his past disciplinary record.
Bunyan was acquitted of four counts.
The trial heard that Bunyan, of Carharrack near Camborne, "was not there when the public needed him".
IPCC commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: "This man completely abused the position of trust he was in and is a disgrace to the police service. These were criminal actions and he has rightly been found guilty. I hope that this sends a message that corrupt officers will be found out and severely punished."