Rubber bullets bought at a cost of more than £400,000 by the Home Office to quell rioters could not be used by police officers, it has emerged.
The spending was revealed in the Home Office's annual accounts under a section titled "fruitless payments" and showed that the department spent £427,000 on rubber rounds bought from abroad even though they did not pass British safety standards which meant they could not be used in the UK.
The rounds were bought to bolster police forces after last summer's riots. The Home Office said the bullets were subsequently used for training purposes.
"The level of incompetence demonstrated in wasting taxpayers money on rubber bullets without thinking to check whether they meet UK safety standards is frankly breathtaking," said David Hanson, the Labour shadow Policing minister, last night.
"The Home Office is lurching from one shambles to the next on an almost daily basis."
The Police Federation of England and Wales said it was symptomatic of mistakes made in procuring equipment. The payment was part of more than £800,000 in the fruitless payment section of the accounts described as "payments for which liability ought not to have been incurred or where the demand for the goods or services in question could have been cancelled in time to avoid liability".
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