Inquiry funding request

AN APPLICATION has been made to the Home Office for financial help in the ongoing misconduct inquiry into Cleveland Police Authority.

Operation Sacristy is an ongoing criminal and misconduct investigation currently being undertaken by police officers under the command of Keith Bristow, Head of Operation Sacristy and Director of the National Crime Agency, ‘into a number of people with current or past associations with Cleveland Police Authority (CPA) and the manner in which the authority may have conducted some of its business’.

The CPA, chaired by Hartlepool mayor Stuart Drummond, has asked for help in paying the bill, which so far stands at almost £900,000.

The application has been made to Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP, Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice, under Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003, which has provisions for a Special Police Authority Grant to be made.

It was agreed that from April 11 2011, Cleveland Police Authority would pay for the investigation, and costs incurred to the end of November last year are £879,000.

There are further additional associated costs to the investigation, for example, legal advisers to the authority and a Temporary Chief Constable and a Temporary Assistant Chief Constable whilst the Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable are suspended. These costs totalled £105,000 up to the end of October last year.

There is no indication of when the investigation will be completed or what the final cost will be.

Mr Drummond said: “We fully support the investigation and understand that it must run its course, however there are significant financial implications for the authority.

“We have therefore submitted a formal application to the Home Office for a special grant which, if approved, would assist the authority in meeting some or all of the costs of Operation Sacristy.

“There are many financial pressures on the authority moving forward given the savings that have to be found under the Comprehensive Spending Review, and we are committed to not taking any money out of frontline policing budgets to pay for this investigation.

“We would therefore ask the Home Office to consider the request for financial support so that we can continue to deliver the best policing service possible to members of the public in Cleveland and we would very much welcome any support of local MPs, councillors or the media in pressing our case to the Minister.”