Marcus Beale: Top West Midlands cop fined after leaving top secret documents in his car while he went on holiday
West Midlands Police's most senior counter terrorism officer who left top secret papers in his car while he went on holiday before they were stolen has been fined.
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who was the counter terrorism lead for the West Midlands force, left the documents in a locked case in the boot of the vehicle for four or five days.
The papers, which included information about counter terrorism intelligence and investigations, were stolen from the unmarked police car in May.
Beale, 54, was fined £3,500 at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday.
Beale has been suspended from duty and is due to face disciplinary proceedings. West Midlands Police has been contacted.
He pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to safeguard information under the Official Secrets Act.
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Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: "It's obviously incredibly dangerous and potentially very difficult indeed that these documents disappeared in the way that they did.
"There is no evidence of in fact what happened to that briefcase, it may be it was an ordinary thief after your iPod who thought there was money in the briefcase but we will never know, it has just disappeared.
"Nevertheless, that a police officer, let alone a very senior police officer, thought it was appropriate to leave a briefcase in the boot of a car which had those sorts of papers in it shows a lack of common sense which was worrying."
She added: "No training is needed for a police officer to know that you should not be leaving anything of value in a locked car for five minutes let alone five days."
The briefcase contained four confidential documents, including one which was top secret, the highest level of classification, and another which was secret.
The papers also included minutes from a high-level counter terror meeting, counter terrorism local profiles, details of regular organised crime and highly sensitive information about a high-profile investigation.
Beale left them in the boot of his car for five days while he carried out errands, including a pub visit with a colleague and supermarket shopping.
The vehicle was also parked at an East Midlands railway station for several days while he went on a weekend holiday with his wife.
Beale discovered the case was missing when he stopped at a motorway services on his way to a meeting in Oxfordshire on May 15.
There were no signs of forced entry to his car and when he searched the vehicle he found an iPod and sunglasses were also gone.
The briefcase and all the documents have not been recovered.
Beale, from the East Midlands, has been a police officer his entire working life and joined West Midlands in 2011.
Duncan Atkinson QC, defending, said he has played a crucial role in fighting terrorism in the UK and has "a career's worth of public service".
West Midlands Police's deputy chief constable, Louisa Rolfe, said: “Today ACC Beale faced grave consequences for a mistake in an otherwise exemplary police career. This is a very serious matter and to face criminal charges is devastating for any police officer.
“ACC Beale’s distinguished career includes leading the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit where he oversaw a number of the UK’s most serious terrorism investigations.”