Theresa May reads the riot act to police commissioners after expenses scandals

 

After a slew of allegations and mishaps involving chauffeur-driven trips funded by taxpayers and embarrassing rows over staffing, the country’s newly elected but already beleaguered police leaders have been called into Whitehall to be warned of their responsibilities.

Ministers have told their police and crime commissioners that they must detail their spending and hospitality arrangements online after a new round of damaging headlines about the Conservative law and order policy.

The 41 commissioners in England and Wales, each voted into office in November, were called in for a private meeting with the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and the Policing minister, Damian Green, last week following a dispute over the expenses claims of the Cumbria commissioner.

“Damian Green talked about the need to make sure websites were updated, and also with details of hospitality,” said one person present at Tuesday’s meeting in London.

A second attendee insisted the meeting was not held in a “finger wagging” way. But the Government may have to endure questions over the transparency and professionalism of the new system for some time yet, with a spokesman for Martin Surl, an independent commissioner in Gloucestershire, saying he had not been able to put his expenses online because his website was not “fit for purpose”.

The Home Office intervention came as analysis by The Independent revealed that a group of commissioners still have not put their expenses online as outlined by law to “allow the public to hold them to account”.

Those who have not include Alan Hardwick, the commissioner in Lincolnshire, who suspended the force’s temporary Chief Constable and then was forced to reinstate him after his decision-making was criticised as “perverse” by the High Court.

At least three others said they would put their expenses online by the end of this week.

Richard Rhodes, the Conservative commissioner for the Cumbria force, may feel fortunate for not having been named during the meeting after expenses claims came to light showing that he had spent £700 on two chauffeur-driven journeys for evening functions. His office justified the journeys on the grounds of “personal safety”.

The episode led to the arrests of three people, including two police staff members, and criticism of Mr Rhodes’ office which triggered the whistleblower hunt. Mr Rhodes has paid back the money.

The controversy also raised questions over the operational independence of the police after Mr Rhodes’ request for a review on the extent of the police investigation was snubbed by the Chief Constable.

Mr Rhodes undertook to publish his expenses online in light of the controversy. Before the elections of the police leaders in November, the Home Office said that the commissioners must publish quarterly details of expenses, including the class of travel and category of hotels used. Expense claims posted by the commissioners showed detailed submissions by some, while others listed the bare minimum.

A Home Office spokeswoman declined to comment about matters discussed at the meeting.

Additional reporting by Laura Lea, Alex Wynick and Adam Dobrik

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project