Criticism over force payouts to senior officers

A POLICE authority currently at the centre of a corruption probe has been criticised over redundancy payouts to senior officers.

A report from the Government spending watchdog, the Audit Commission, said Cleveland Police Authority (CPA) inappropriately used delegated powers to approve redundancy for senior officers.

It also says CPA made inaccurate calculations to support a redundancy proposal with a business case on the matter “grossly overstating potential savings”.

The report highlights potential overpayments on redundancy packages totalling £35,000.

The report also criticises the competitiveness of hourly rates on some long-running consultancy arrangements and the failure to appoint a monitoring officer since June 2010, which is a statutory requirement.

Cleveland Police Authority said significant changes have been made to prevent any repeat and legal advice is being sought about trying to reclaim the £35,000 in overpayments.

A spokesman said: “The authority accepts the criticism and the findings of the auditor. These events took place over a year ago and the authority has since introduced new procedures that will avoid these types of issues in the future.

“The matters raised have been taken very seriously by the authority and have been considered in detail by the members and by the Audit and Internal Control Panel. All of the recommendations made by the district auditor have been agreed and changes implemented or being implemented.

“These lapses in internal control were unacceptable and significant changes have been made that will ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again.”

Operation Sacristy is currently ongoing into the CPA. It has led to the arrest of Chief Constable Sean Price, his deputy Derek Bonnard, former CPA chairman Dave McLuckie and former force solicitor Caroline Llewellyn. All have denied any wrongdoing.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond took over as chairman of CPA this week at a time when the authority is trying to save millions of pounds because of Government cuts to its grant funding.