MORE than 20 North Yorkshire Police officers and staff members have been arrested for offences including rape, grooming and child cruelty, an investigation has found.

A Freedom of Information request by York Press parent company Newsquest found that since 2015, 23 North Yorkshire Police employees -15 police officers and eight members of staff - have been arrested.

Police revealed that the offences included rape, gross indecency with a child under 14, grooming, possession of indecent images and stalking without fear, alarm or distress.

Following criminal investigations, two police workers were exonerated, two were cautioned, two received custodial sentences, eight required no further action, one case was discontinued and five employees resigned before the outcome.

North Yorkshire Police confirmed that following the criminal investigations, two employees were dismissed, one received a final written warning, seven required no further action while 10 resigned.

North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: “We are proud that the majority of our police officers and staff do their job with honesty and integrity whilst providing a professional policing service for our communities.

“However, it is disappointing and unacceptable that on occasions the actions of our staff and officers fall far below the standards expected and in those instances, we have thorough processes in place to ensure appropriate action is taken. Fortunately, such cases are low in number here in North Yorkshire.

“I have no doubt that the professionalism and commitment of the majority who work at North Yorkshire Police is a crucial factor why our county remains one of the safest places in the country.”

However, the number of North Yorkshire Police employees arrested accounted for just 0.9 per cent of police staff arrested across Britain.

According to figures from 31 forces, the equivalent of at least six police workers a week have been arrested since 2015.

The Government stressed that efforts were currently being made to overhaul and reform the police disciplinary system.

Changes introduced in December 2017 saw the ‘former officers’ regime’ being established in a bid to improve transparency and accountability within forces, with the latter ensuring that investigations into misconduct could continue beyond an officer’s retirement or resignation.