A senior police officer who was responsible for terrorism investigations has been summoned to court for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act.
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale has been suspended from duty by West Midlands Police over claims he failed to safeguard sensitive documents.
Contained in a locked box, they were stolen from an unmarked police car in May alongside personal belongings.
The Metropolitan Police has been tasked with the investigation into potential criminal liability and its Directorate of Professional Standards is also probing the case.
"On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police Service summonsed a West Midlands officer for an offence under the Official Secrets Act relating to failure to safeguard sensitive documents,” a spokesperson said.
"The summons relates to a Metropolitan Police investigation into the alleged failure to safeguard sensitive documents after items were stolen from an unmarked police car in May.
"A number of personal belongings were taken during the theft, along with a locked box containing documents relating to police matters."
Mr Beale is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 7 December.
Officials did not elaborate on the nature of the documents but Mr Beale held West Midlands Police’s security portfolio, with responsibility for the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit.
One of several regional units dedicated to terror cases, it is privy to information from secretive surveillance operations and intelligence agencies including MI5 and GCHQ.
Mr Beale’s profile, which has been deleted from West Midlands Police’s website, said he had commanded operations that “disrupted some of the most significant UK mainland terrorist plots in recent years”, including the London Stock Exchange plot in 2010 and a foiled suicide attack in 2011.
The force confirmed its second most-senior officer had been suspended, adding that the theft is being investigated locally.
Mr Beale joined West Midlands Police in 2011 and was also responsible local policing in Birmingham at the time the documents were stolen.
His suspension comes after a series of scandals over the protection of people’s data and sensitive documents.
In 2008, a civil servant caused a major security breach by leaving top-secret documents containing the latest intelligence on al-Qaeda on a train seat.
A fellow passenger spotted the envelope containing the “eyes only” files and passed them to the BBC, who handed them to the police.
Months before, before a laptop holding the personal details of 600,000 military recruits had been stolen from a car and the following year, Bob Quick was forced to stand down as Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer after being photographed carrying open documents into Downing Street in a leak that affected an operation.
More recently, Downing Street launched an investigation after Theresa May’s travel plans were left on a train, while a council has been warned after one of its social workers left court documents containing data on children on the roof of her car and drove off.