SEVENTEEN police officers and four civilian staff are under investigation over e-mails of a “racist and sexual nature” circulating on an internal computer system.
A 51-year-old police officer has already been suspended while the inquiry takes place, with disciplinary action against others anticipated.
All 21 male and female employees work within “G” Division of Lothian and Borders Police, which is based in Hawick, Roxburghshire.
The force said it had a facility in place to monitor e-mails entering, existing and being exchanged within the internal police e-mail system.
As a result of this scrutiny, e-mails containing “inappropriate and offensive material” were recently detected within the Borders area division of the force.
Deputy Chief Constable Bill Skelly of Lothian and Borders Police last night insisted the matter would be fully investigated and action taken.
He said: “It is of huge disappointment to me, the force and, I am sure, the communities we serve, that e-mails of a racist and sexist nature were circulated on our system.
“I consider this to be a very serious matter and have instructed that a 51-year-old police officer is suspended and that further inquiries should be carried out.
“Initial work has identified another 20 individuals – 16 officers and four police staff – who appear to be involved in this issue. They have been spoken to and advised that they are subject to misconduct inquiries.”