Hertfordshire Police has disciplined 140 officers and staff for circulating an e-mail that showed an image of a black man being decapitated.
The force has launched a “robust” investigation, under the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the distribution of the e-mail, which was entitled ‘Do not run from the police’.
Eight police sergeants have already been given formal reprimands and seven civilian managers have received final written warnings for circulating the offensive material.
A total of 440 officers and staff at the force are thought to have received the e-mail but only 300 employees deleted it.
Deputy chief constable Simon Ash of Hertfordshire Police said: “I am disappointed by the conduct of officers and staff who distributed this inappropriate image that some people may have perceived as being racist.”
However, the chairman of the Hertfordshire Police Federation, Adam Kemp, said the e-mail was not a sign of racism.
“My own view is that the image itself is not racist but it’s certainly inappropriate to be circulating it within a police force,” he said.