A police officer has been suspended for allegedly leaking secret information from the national intelligence network to a criminal.

The Auckland constable has been stood down pending an internal investigation and could face a police misconduct hearing, or even criminal charges.

A small number of police staff have been charged with using the computer system to help friends and family to evade arrest.

But most have been non-sworn staff in call centres, not officers.

The suspended constable is in a squad which targets "volume crime", in particular burglaries, and had access to the police intelligence database.

He is alleged to have leaked sensitive information to help a known criminal to avoid arrest.

The constable, who has been in the police for two years, was this week interviewed by staff from the force's professional standards team.

The Weekend Herald was unable to reach him for comment.

Counties Manukau district commander Superintendent Mike Bush said the officer under investigation had been suspended from duty.

"Police are investigating an allegation that information has been inappropriately disclosed by a police employee, and as the investigation is under way it would be inappropriate to comment further," Mr Bush said.

Police Minister Judith Collins has been briefed on the "serious allegations" but declined to comment as the inquiry was not finished.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor also declined to comment.

The National Intelligence Application is a computer network that holds information on people's criminal convictions and whether they are wanted by police or are a surveillance target.

The system also gives police facts on criminals' associates and their addresses.

Police national headquarters figures show 33 police staff were caught making unauthorised checks of the National Intelligence Application since August 2007. Nine of those later resigned.

A police spokesman said the figure was low given that the force had more than 11,500 staff and the public made 1.7 million phone calls to police communication centres every year.

It is understood many unauthorised checks highlighted in the random audit were of an innocent nature on personal acquaintances, a practice which is banned.

Random audits of the system were introduced after officers were caught looking at the personal files of high-profile police sex complainants.

Constable Steven Hales resigned from the police before it was discovered that he looked at the file of Tauranga woman Donna Johnson, who alleged former officer Brad Shipton had violated her.

It was also revealed Mr Hales had checked the file of a victim of pack-rape by Brad Shipton, former policeman Bob Schollum and millionaire Peter McNamara.

Mr Hales' brother, Warren, admitted abducting the woman in the 1989 attack.

Other incidents, involving non-sworn staff, include Rotorua police telephonist Maxine Griffiths, 45, who was sentenced to nine months' home detention in May after she was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice by giving her P-dealing partner secret police information.

The partner, Gregory Tuuta, was later jailed for methamphetamine dealing after a large undercover operation.

But Griffiths tried to help him to avoid arrest by giving him sensitive National Intelligence Application information.

In March 2006, a police communications worker was charged with helping a senior member of the Head Hunters gang to avoid arrest.

The call-taker helped David Dunn while he was on the run from the law and facing methamphetamine charges.