£30,000 Police payout found to be unacceptable
7:25am 10th February 2012
(Updated 7:43pm 10th February 2012)
A former senior police officer in North Yorkshire is facing questions over his expenses.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission says Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs received thirty thousand pounds for personal training.
It's found there were no means for auditing how that money was spent and have now found this was unacceptable.
The authority have spoken out this morning saying it's disapointed in the IPCC's decision.
They said the money meant the top officers could purchase private medical cover for themselves and their close family and as a way to recognise the stresses of the job.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has concluded that it was unacceptable for North Yorkshire Police Authority to give an officer more than £30,000 without any means for auditing how that money was spent.
The IPCC conducted an independent investigation into financial claims for development training made by Adam Briggs while he was Deputy Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police.
The investigation determined that Mr Briggs had been awarded a contract when he joined the force as DCC in June 2007 which, in addition to his salary, included a non-pensionable payment of £10,000 per annum. This payment was to cover the cost of private medical insurance and personal development training. In total Mr Briggs received £31,647.06 during his time with the force.
In November 2007 Mr Briggs agreed a 24-month contract for personal development training with a company called Enabling Developments. He claimed the cost of this contract - £11,750 including VAT – from North Yorkshire Police despite already being in receipt of the £10,000 per annum allowance.
The training came to light via a Freedom of Information request by Jane's Police Review magazine in July 2010 and prompted concern within NYPA. The Authority brought the matter to the attention of the IPCC who then instructed that the matter be formally referred. The IPCC investigation was told the Authority had no knowledge of Mr Briggs' arrangement with the training company and had not sanctioned it.
In addition Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell stated he had not authorised the training and that he had given Mr Briggs ‘strong words of advice' in relation to not following the relevant tendering procedure. There is no record of the action Mr Maxwell took.
The IPCC investigation found:
· there was no system put in place to audit how Mr Briggs used the allowance allocated to him;
· Mr Briggs had not gone through the correct procurement processes for the contract and failed to seek any authorisation for the training.
Mr Briggs, who had retired from North Yorkshire Police shortly before the investigation began, was asked by the IPCC to assist by either voluntarily attending an interview or providing a statement to explain his decisions. Mr Briggs has not cooperated.
IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: "The Police Authority's remit is to scrutinise the expenditure of a police force and hold the senior officers to account. It is utterly unacceptable therefore that more than £30,000 of public funds can be handed to an officer without any means to audit how that money is used. Although the Police Authority stipulated what the money was to be used for, they did not check, and even gave Mr Briggs some discretion on how he spent it within the set parameters.
"Although Mr Briggs has retired one would think he would want to take an opportunity to explain what he did with the money and why he claimed a further £11,750 from the public purse. I find his decision not to assist our investigation or answer our questions disappointing. It leaves us with an expenses claim that does not appear to withstand scrutiny and the actions of a senior police officer that do not appear justifiable. Nobody knows what the money has been spent on. It may well have been used entirely legitimately but Mr Briggs, who while holding a senior public office should have been acting in a financially responsible way, which was open, transparent and auditable, has chosen not to tell us.”
The IPCC's investigation report can be found here.
North Yorkshire Police Authority Statement:
NYPA is disappointed in the conclusion of the IPCC – after an investigation lasting longer than a year - that the Authority’s arrangements for a personal development allowance, provided to the Chief and Deputy Chief Constables of North Yorkshire Police, were ‘unacceptable’.
These locally negotiated allowances, provided from 2007 to 2010, were brought in to ensure that the 2 most senior officers of North Yorkshire Police had the personal support necessary to ensure that they remained focussed on delivering good quality policing services to North Yorkshire and the City of York.
NYPA Chief Executive, Jeremy Holderness said:
‘These taxable allowances, paid to the individuals concerned on top of their salary, were approved by NYPA for 2 specific purposes. Firstly, it allowed the officers to purchase private medical cover for themselves and their close family. An illness to oneself or a loved one can be a serious distraction. We sought to ensure that through this allowance, such distractions could be minimised and focus could be maintained on leading this important public service.’
‘Secondly, the Authority recognises that these responsible roles can be very stressful and can take a toll on the emotional health of the individuals concerned. The Authority sees it as its responsibility – as effectively the employing body - to minimise such impacts if it can. ‘
‘In addition, NYPA recognises that senior professionals need to continue their personal development so as to continue to perform at the top of their game whilst in post but also to develop into more senior roles within policing nationally.’
‘So, this sum of money was made available to these officers to commission these services, which might be sometimes personally sensitive in nature. Inevitably, such an arrangement relies heavily on the integrity of the individual to ensure that the money is used for the purposes for which it was intended.’
‘Such allowances are not unfamiliar in policing or indeed in many other avenues of business. They are seen to be quite reasonable in the circumstances of employment of senior professionals and, so long as they are operated in the way intended, are generally beneficial to the individuals and the organisation.’
‘We agree that in this instance, sadly, the arrangements might not have operated as we would have wished and we have learnt lessons for the future. However, in our view, it is disproportionate to say that the arrangements were ‘unacceptable’.
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