DS Mark Burns misconduct Investigation

Status: REFUSED – Internal review

  • Dear Lancashire police

    I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information relating to Det Sgt Mark Burns, a Lancashire police officer, mentioned in the following news article.

    https://www.lep.co.uk/news/crime/investigation-in-preston-police-officer-s-sleazy-order-1-7243471

    An article on the Lancashire Evening Post alleges that Det Sgt Mark Burns was under investigation for purchasing a thong from a ‘young’ woman through a fetish website.  The allegation states that this thong purchased by Det Sgt Mark Burns was to be posted to him at work at a Lancashire police stations. 

    The allegations also suggest that Det Sgt Mark Burns then complimented the young woman’s figure and then asked her the make a ‘video’ for him. I suspect this may have been of a sexual or pornographic nature.

    Det Sgt Mark Burns was alleged to have said (relating to purchasing you womans underwear)  “I ask for them to be posted to where I work. The big thing is I work in a police station. Is that OK with you? I’ve had pairs of pants ­delivered here before.” suggesting this is not the only time he has done this.

    • What was the outcome of this investigation?
    • Was it uncovered what video DS Mark Burns requested the young female to make for him was? 
    • Was the video request of a sexual nature? 
    • Was the video request legal? 
    • Did the video request involve payment?
    • His comments suggest this is not a one off incident, how many other instances of this nature were discovered in the investigation?
    • What criminal investigations has DS Mark Burns been involved in? The emphasis being predominantly cases that involve victims that are ‘young woman’.  (I would suggest an age up to 25 would be accepted for my query definition of young woman)
    • Have Lancashire police force have considered whether Det Sgt Mark Burns was a risk to any victims he has had contact with in light of his clear fetish for underwear from young woman and other potential sexual requests from young woman.  If so, what was the determination? If not, why not?
    • I would like to know if there are any cases he has worked on that may raise questions about potential ethics and morals when dealing with vulnerable victims, especially young woman.
    • Is it true that in light of these allegations, DS Mark Burns was promoted from Police Constable to Detective Sergeant in 2017, less that 2 years after this incident?
    • Is it true that in light of this clear fetish for young woman, DS Mark Burns is now involved in Cybercrime investigations? 
    • Does his role involve any investigations of a sexual nature, especially of young woman?  If so, do you think this is appropriate?

    If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under your Section 16 obligations, as to how I can refine my request to be included in the scope of the Act. In any case, if you can identify ways that my request could be refined please provide further advice and assistance to indicate this.

    I look forward to your response within 20 working days, as stipulated by the Act.

    Yours faithfully,

    Paul Ponting

Deadline 28th June 2019

  • Dear Lancashire police.

    I would like this decision to be reviewed.

    I am first pointing out that there appears to be an intentional delay in responding in a ‘reasonable timeframe’. You have refused to provide the information requested yet used all available time to make this decision, in fact, you exceeded the statutory response time. I see this as intentionally to delay the request.

    You also refused to respond to any questions on the claimed exemption. You did not provide a rationale for any of the questions, just a vague refusal to supply data that is in the public interest.

    I disagree that the information is exempt under section 40 (2) Personal Information on the grounds that the incident referred to is already widely published in the local media. PC Mark Burns name and details of the incident have been published and further clarification of the investigation does not disclose any further details other that clarification of published facts. Even if one or two questions are exempt, you have chosen to refuse to respond to any FOI request based on this.

    I have re-submitted my questions which I think you will see related to a misconduct and criminal investigation. The facts of both are in the public interest and should not be withheld.

    If you believe one or more of the questions releases exempt personal information, then please provide a full rationale for that specific question. This does not exempt all questions from the Freedom of Information request. A failure to provide this information will be reported to the ICO.

    • What was the outcome of this investigation?

    • Was it uncovered what video DS Mark Burns requested the young female to make for him was?

    • Was the video request of a sexual nature?

    • Was the video request legal?

    • Did the video request involve payment?

    • His comments suggest this is not a one off incident, how many other instances of this nature were discovered in the investigation?

    • What criminal investigations has DS Mark Burns been involved in? The emphasis being predominantly cases that involve victims that are ‘young woman’. (I would suggest an age up to 25 would be accepted for my query definition of young woman)

    • Have Lancashire police force have considered whether Det Sgt Mark Burns was a risk to any victims he has had contact with in light of his clear fetish for underwear from young woman and other potential sexual requests from young woman. If so, what was the determination? If not, why not?

    • I would like to know if there are any cases he has worked on that may raise questions about potential ethics and morals when dealing with vulnerable victims, especially young woman.

    • Is it true that in light of these allegations, DS Mark Burns was promoted from Police Constable to Detective Sergeant in 2017, less that 2 years after this incident?

    • Is it true that in light of this clear fetish for young woman, DS Mark Burns is now involved in Cybercrime investigations?

    • Does his role involve any investigations of a sexual nature, especially of young woman? If so, do you think this is appropriate?