A married police community support officer "used the criminal intelligence system as a dating agency" to strike up affairs with single mothers and victims of domestic abuse while on duty, a court was told yesterday.
Peter Bunyan, 40, an officer with Devon and Cornwall Police, is alleged to have accessed highly sensitive police data to perform background checks on women and their former partners after so-called "welfare" visits to victims of crime.
He is accused of neglecting his duties by turning his police radio down on shifts before having sex with women, including 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.
Bunyan, who is now divorced, denies 12 counts of misconduct in a public office, taking place over a five-year period in the Camborne and Redruth areas of West Cornwall. The case is being held at Taunton Crown Court.
Simon Burns, prosecuting, told the jury: "This is not a court of morals. You will hear all sorts of sordid details in relation to this case.
"He (Bunyan) has abused his position as a police officer by targeting women – targeting vulnerable women – and conducting inappropriate sexual relationships with them while on duty.
"He has behaved, while on duty as a police officer, inappropriately and unprofessionally.
"Not only was he in his full uniform... but occasionally even turned down or off his police radio."
Mr Burns said Bunyan had sex with women at various locations, including at a neighbourhood police office. Bunyan also accessed the police database, where he was able to find highly personal details about people in the community, including the women he targeted.
Mr Burns added: "He used that confidential information, which is not allowed to be simply looked at by a police officer, unless they have a lawful reason for doing so.
"You don't look up somebody simply to be nosy, to look at where they live, to look for their telephone numbers. He abused the police computer system to his own advantage.
"You do not use the criminal intelligence system as a dating agency."
Mr Burns said the public expected PSCOs such as Bunyan to protect them on the streets, "not to be in bed with them".
Mr Burns said Bunyan's first affair was with a woman who had some mental health issues. She was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The woman previously had reason to call the police following a dispute with someone.
Bunyan admits having sex with four women – who include single mothers, women in their 20s, and victims of domestic abuse – but said it was when off-duty. He denies sex with a fifth woman. All five say the sex was consensual.
The trial continues.