Musicals, flights, big sporting events: The junkets that led to a £4.6m police ‘corruption’ inquiry

Private-sector outsourcers treated senior Cleveland Police officials to lavish entertainment

Disgraced senior officials at Britain’s most scandal-hit police force were provided with a series of lavish junkets by companies linked to a private sector executive involved in outsourcing deals worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Three firms with ties to managing consultant Rob Beattie supplied hospitality to Cleveland Police, including international rugby tickets and football executive boxes, according to newly released police documents. The season-long football boxes cost Mr Beattie’s companies tens of thousands of pounds.

Having helped to secure a lucrative £870,000-a-year private sector deal for one firm to run custody operations at Cleveland, he left to become a consultant at another company which subsequently secured hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of work for the same force.

The lavish nature of the entertainment emerged in analysis of documents and hospitality records released through Operation Sacristy – a £4.6m, three-and-a-half year corruption inquiry run by the head of the National Crime Agency, Keith Bristow. It led to the first sacking of a chief constable – Sean Price, who was arrested and later dismissed for gross misconduct – for 35 years.

In one example of the hospitality being arranged, Joe McCarthy, the former chief executive of the Cleveland Police Authority, wrote an email to Mr Beattie saying: “The [chief constable’s] driver will drive us down – it would be great if you could also get a ticket for him – hope this is not taking the piss [5 tickets in all]!”

The inquiry saw ten people arrested. However, prosecutors last week concluded that the police had not uncovered “direct causal links” between the awarding of contracts and any “alleged rewards and inducements offered or received”. The inquiry ended without anyone being charged with any criminality.

Sean Price was the first chief constable sacked in 35 years (PA) Sean Price was the first chief constable sacked in 35 years (PA)
Mr Beattie, 53, helped secure the contract for Reliance Secure Task Management – signed one year after the company hosted senior police officers and officials at a Wales vs Scotland rugby match in Cardiff, according to newly released documents. The company already had contracts to build police stations in a major private finance project.

Reliance also later employed Mr McCarthy after he quit Cleveland Police with a £360,000 pay-off. Mr McCarthy left before the company before it was taken over in 2012. Detectives said that the company had not done anything illegal.

Senior police officials attended a Reliance-hosted event at an England-Wales international rugby match in 2007 that cost the taxpayer more than £3,650 in flights and hotel bills for the Cleveland contingent. Meetings with former players and a Welsh voice choir were promised as part of the event, according to an email sent by Mr Beattie, and was designed for a number of forces it did business with. “Such extensive hospitality from a potential or existing contractor is inappropriate,” said detectives in a report released last week by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Labour demanded closer scrutiny of private-sector deals as forces face cuts to their budgets. Jack Dromey, the shadow policing minister, said: “Operation Sacristy has highlighted the need for proper national standards on police procurement and integrity.

“We have been pressing the Government to act on national procedures for procurement and collaboration and on an enhanced standards and investigative police standards authority for years and yet all we have seen is tinkering at the edges. It’s time for the Government to act”.

Reliance Secure Task Management – now renamed as Tascor after being bought out by Capita for £20m – is involved in deportation work and police custody roles for nine forces, according to its website. “While we cannot comment on the policies that applied before Capita’s acquisition of Tascor in 2012, it is now subject to rigorous and audited Group-wide standards,” said Capita in a statement. “Individual businesses hold registers in line with Capita’s anti-corruption policy that requires them to record all expenditure on hospitality over £150 and such registers are available for inspection by regulatory bodies.”

Mr Beattie, who was business development director at Reliance, left the company in March 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile.

That same month he joined the Enterprise Development Group, which secured six-figure deals for work carried out for Cleveland Police over three years, according to documents released last week. He is currently a director at the firm.

Sean Price and David McLuckie were provided tickets to a Six Nations match in 2007 (Getty) Sean Price and David McLuckie were provided tickets to a Six Nations match in 2007 (Getty)
He also worked on a deal that resulted in outsourcing firm Steria securing a £175m contract in 2010. Enterprise paid for a season ticket for six people at Middlesbrough Football Club for 2008/09 costing £11,400 plus VAT.

Mr Beattie was arrested during the inquiry but has been told that he will not face any charges. He denied any wrongdoing, said the executive boxes were not solely for police use and criticised the inquiry. “I worked up at Cleveland Police. As far as I’m aware did a very good job for them, helped them save tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of pounds, and changed the organisation.

“The fact that we had a box at Middlesbrough Football Club has no direct relevance to Cleveland Police in that respect except the number of times where they’ve registered that they’ve come along as guests and seen the football… it’s not solely for, or specially for, the use of Cleveland Police.”

Mr Price added that the investigation “ruined my life and my reputation, and it is now clear for all to see that it was completely unnecessary, disproportionate and unlawful. The on-going and misguided criminal investigation has been a complete waste of £5m of public money”.

Abba gold: Some of the perks

Detectives working under the head of the National Crime Agency, Keith Bristow, highlighted lavish spending and lax controls for contract talks at Cleveland Police.

Their inquiry revealed that a former chief constable, Sean Price, travelled to Denver with David McLuckie, who was then the chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, for an awards ceremony with detectives commended for exposing a drugs network.

While the two detectives travelled in economy – and their partners paid their own way – Mr Price and Mr McLuckie went first class, the report said.

Corporate spending on credit cards amounted to more than £250,000 over five years, including nearly £58,000 spent by Mr Price.

Mr McLuckie gained tickets to Mamma Mia! in New York. Reliance Secure Task Management provided tickets to Mr McLuckie and Mr Price for the Champions League match between Liverpool and Chelsea in April 2008, and for the Six Nations match between England and Wales in 2007.

Mr McLuckie said: “The manner in which information has been presented by the Force is totally misleading.

“Neither I, nor others named in the report, had any chance to study its contents or respond to its claims, opinions and allegations.”

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz