FIVE Hampshire Constabulary employees have been suspended over claims of making “racist” comments.

Nearly 20 police officers and staff are under investigation for alleged 'inappropriate and prejudiced language and behaviours.'

The probe was launched in February last year, when officers were allegedly caught making racist and homophobic comments after secret cameras and microphones were installed at the force’s headquarters in Basingstoke.

The complaint was made just months after the new Northern Hampshire Police Investigation Centre was opened by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd in August 2017.

Around 20 employees, including 16 officers and three civilian staff, are under investigation with five being suspended and 11 placed on restricted duties, according to a report in the Sun.

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed that the force’s professional standards department is conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the alleged use of “inappropriate and prejudiced language and behaviours.”

The probe is being overseen by a watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, with senior officers putting 11 people on restricted duties.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: “This investigation began in February last year and the allegations involve a specialist team within the force. Five people have been suspended.

“Of the 14 officers and staff who are not suspended, 11 people have been placed on directed duties while the exact circumstances are established.

“Hampshire Constabulary takes any allegations of this nature very seriously and has been taking independent advice from the outset. We are in the process of conducting a rigorous investigation which is being supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”