29/09/2011

London Police Credit Card Probe Welcomed

An investigation into the misuse of official police credit cards has been welcomed by the capital's Metropolitan Police Authority, (MPA).

A statement today from the MPA said it is committed to ensuring that officers and staff use resources appropriately and welcomes the report 'Abuse of Metropolitan Police issued Amex cards'.

The MPA worked with considerable effort and resources to pursue the misuse of Amex cards in the MPS and those officers who fraudulently used their cards for personal gain have been identified, held to account through the courts or misconduct proceedings, resulting in dismissals and criminal convictions.

The case that started the investigations into Amex cards was initiated from within the MPA's Internal Audit Directorate which received a 'whistleblowing' call.

Amex claims from over 3,000 officers were initially sorted, sifted, and reviewed within Internal Audit so that only those cases appropriate for investigation were forwarded to the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards.

Any civil recovery issues of over claimed monies were also dealt with by the Authority.

The cases involving the investigation of ACPO rank officers were decided by the Authority's Professional Standards Cases Sub-committee.

Some 34 recommendations were made in full consultation with MPA's Internal Audit and MPS Exchequer Services to be incorporated into a new corporate credit card system, along with robust processes for handling expenditure claims.

The probe has also been welcomed by the force itself with Commander Peter Spindler of the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards [DPS] commenting: "The MPS has concluded its thorough investigation, managed by the IPCC, into the misuse of corporate American Express cards.

"We have identified and held to account those who fraudulently used their card for personal gain, ensuring that officers who made a quick profit from the public purse faced the consequences of their actions through the courts or misconduct action.

"This robust stance has resulted in criminal convictions, dismissals and disciplinary sanctions.

"As well as routing out dishonest behaviour, an important part of the investigation was to identify weaknesses in the corporate credit card system and introduce new measures to improve governance and compliance.

"The additional measures put in place include reduced time to account for expenditure, imposition of annual spend limits and tighter controls over cash withdrawals. Among various benefits this has enabled managers and finance units to have greater oversight of expenditure.

"The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is committed to ensuring that officers and staff use resources appropriately.

"The DPS is committed to tackling dishonest behaviour and misconduct working to ensure that the small number of officers who do not meet the standards of professionalism and integrity expected of them are dealt with."

(BMcC/GK)

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