Scotland Yard officers accused of moonlighting in 'The Bill'

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into claims that serving Metropolitan Police officers are moonlighting as extras in television programmes such as The Bill and EastEnders.

Officers are using their professional experience to obtain roles ranging from armed response officers to riot police without first obtaining permission from the Met. They can earn up to £120 a day plus overtime, which is more lucrative than a constable's day job.

The inquiry centres on an extras agency which was set up by the wife of an officer who works in the diplomatic protection group. The agency promotes itself as "the specialist police agency for film and television ­ from the people in the know".

In addition, at least two Met officers have been caught working without permission in ITV's long-running police series The Bill, but neither has lost their job as a result.

Approval would normally have to be obtained from an area commander, who would assess whether the role an officer was hoping to play was compatible with his work in the Met. An appearance in an anti-police drama would be considered a conflict of interests and usually banned.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The department of professional standards is currently investigating a complaint received on 31 May regarding an alleged unregistered business interest and inappropriate use of police resources. Officers can pursue outside employment, including acting work, if they have gained permission."

A spokeswoman for The Bill, Nuala Gibling, said the producers regularly hire police officers and ex-officers, perhaps on a third of The Bill's 80 episodes a year. Although the series has featured some controversial storylines, including one in which a Sun Hill officer murders a colleague, The Bill should not be considered an anti-police drama, she said. "We are never consciously anti-police. We aim to give a rounded picture of people who work in the force."

She added: "We assume everyone who comes to work for us has permission from their employers."