A DEVON and Cornwall firearms licencing officer who copied highly sensitive intelligence information from the force’s computer system has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Ella Aplin photographed the screen on a terminal at her office in police headquarters in Exeter and sent the information to her then boyfriend in February of last year.

The data was highly restricted crime intelligence about the boyfriend and a man who he was thinking of going into business with. 

She asked her boyfriend to delete it and not tell anyone, but instead he shared it with the other man.

The data breach came to light because the second man, named in court only as K, contacted a police officer who he knew and showed him what he had been sent. The officer reported it and Aplin was traced.

She admitted accessing the records on February 15, 2023, and of doing the same thing in a different part of the computer system to check on the case of a family member who had been arrested. 

She was a 25-year-old civilian who had recently been promoted from an administrator to an officer in the firearms licencing branch at force headquarters at Middlemoor. 

She was suspended as soon as the police inquiry began and resigned from the force last month. 

Exeter Crown Court heard that she felt under pressure from her partner to help him by accessing the data and sending it to him. She told police she had been stupid.

Aplin, of Heavitree, Exeter, admitted misconduct in public office and was jailed for four months, suspended for two years, curfewed, and ordered to do 240 hours unpaid community work, 30 days of rehabilitation activities, and pay £670 costs by Judge Stephen Climie.

He told her: ‘Save for this five-day period last year you are otherwise a wholly decent, reasonable, responsible member of society working in a very important capacity for the local police. 

‘You abused that capacity. I accept that to some extent there were implicit consequences from your then partner. That does not excuse it but it may explain why you felt the need to abuse your position of trust.’ 

Mr Tom Bradnock, prosecuting, said the offence was serious because it undermined the public’s faith in how police handle confidential data.


He said Aplin joined the police staff in July 2021 as an administrator and became a firearms licencing officer in 2022. She accessed the computer without any legitimate police purpose twice in February 2022. 

On the first occasion, she photographed a screen in a highly sensitive section of the system which dealt with confidential police intelligence and undercover operations and sent the image to her partner, who was described in court as M.

The information concerned him and a second man known as K, who he was checking out because he was considering going into business with him. 

Aplin’s phone was examined by police and a message to M was found which contained the images and text reading ‘please don’t let me get into trouble. He said the information would go no further.

On February 20 she accessed a log on a system named Storm to seek information about a family member who was in police custody. 

When she was interviewed, she said she felt controlled by M and under pressure from him. She said he had impacted her decision and that she had been ‘stupid’.

Mr Lee Bremridge, defending, said the first offence took place in the context of Aplin’s difficult relationship with M and the second was an attempt to alleviate the anxieties of her family. 

She has excellent personal testimonials and has an offer of a new job. She has been assessed as an excellent prospect for rehabilitation and she has already been working with a counsellor of her own volition.