We pay for police chief's legal challenge

September 20, 2012 5:33 PM

Earlier this year I wrote about the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association (CPOSA). This is the 'trade union' for Assistant Chief Constables and above. It was revealed that taxpayers not only pay the individual subscriptions of senior officers (£275 per year), but we also pay an additional £2,197 per year for each senior officer to provide them with legal cover.

As I said at the time, it can be argued that CPOSA offers protection to those senior officers who may get sued (at times mischievously) whilst doing their job, and it is only right to insure against that risk. However, the insurance policy also pays the legal bills for those officers facing disciplinary action. This is what happened when Grahame Maxwell, the former Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, used the fund to run up a £250,000 legal bill before eventually admitting gross misconduct. Mr Maxwell's actions were not without consequence. The amount all police authorities pay into the fund, per officer, has almost doubled from £1,130 in 2011/12 to £2,197  in the current financial year.

Today the Yorkshire Post has revealed that Sean Price, Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, is also benefiting from this taxpayer funded scheme. He is currently suspended from his job and is on police bail on allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct. He is alleged to have used "undue influence" to appoint the daughter of former Cleveland Police Authority chairman Dave McLuckie to a junior clerical role in the force. He also faces 18 further gross misconduct allegations, including misuse of a corporate credit card and misspending on foreign travel, but no dates for hearings have been set.

Now Mr Price is trying to stop disciplinary hearings by mounting a judicial review in the High Court. Judicial reviews are not cheap - this one could cost £50,000 - and once again we would be picking up the bill. Judicial reviews also take some time to reach a conclusion, and because his contract expires in March next year, if he is successful he may never face disciplinary hearings for the various gross misconduct allegations.

How Mr Price spends his own money is up to him; however he is not spending his own money - he is spending our money. The more he racks up in legal bills, the more taxpayers will have to pay in insurance costs. Julian Smith, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon said taxpayers will look on with "disbelief" at the latest revelations. The Association of Police Authorities has said it is urgently reviewing the situation. But what is there to review? It should be simple. Taxpayers' money should not be used to both prosecute and defend a senior police officer facing personal gross misconduct charges. They should pay for their defence out of their own pockets.

On 15 November (unless you live in London) we go to the polls to elect Police and Crime Commissioners. I hope every candidate states that if elected they will stop this abuse of taxpayers' money. They should also stop us paying the individual subscriptions for senior officers to CPOSA. It is their professional association, and they are more than capable of paying the fees themselves.Earlier this year I wrote about the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association (CPOSA). This is the 'trade union' for Assistant Chief Constables and above. It was revealed that taxpayers not only pay the individual subscriptions of senior officers (£275 per year), but we also pay an additional £2,197 per year for each senior officer to provide them with legal cover.

As I said at the time, it can be argued that CPOSA offers protection to those senior officers who may get sued (at times mischievously) whilst doing their job, and it is only right to insure against that risk. However, the insurance policy also pays the legal bills for those officers facing disciplinary action. This is what happened when Grahame Maxwell, the former Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, used the fund to run up a £250,000 legal bill before eventually admitting gross misconduct. Mr Maxwell's actions were not without consequence. The amount all police authorities pay into the fund, per officer, has almost doubled from £1,130 in 2011/12 to £2,197  in the current financial year.

Today the Yorkshire Post has revealed that Sean Price, Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, is also benefiting from this taxpayer funded scheme. He is currently suspended from his job and is on police bail on allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct. He is alleged to have used "undue influence" to appoint the daughter of former Cleveland Police Authority chairman Dave McLuckie to a junior clerical role in the force. He also faces 18 further gross misconduct allegations, including misuse of a corporate credit card and misspending on foreign travel, but no dates for hearings have been set.

Now Mr Price is trying to stop disciplinary hearings by mounting a judicial review in the High Court. Judicial reviews are not cheap - this one could cost £50,000 - and once again we would be picking up the bill. Judicial reviews also take some time to reach a conclusion, and because his contract expires in March next year, if he is successful he may never face disciplinary hearings for the various gross misconduct allegations.

How Mr Price spends his own money is up to him; however he is not spending his own money - he is spending our money. The more he racks up in legal bills, the more taxpayers will have to pay in insurance costs. Julian Smith, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon said taxpayers will look on with "disbelief" at the latest revelations. The Association of Police Authorities has said it is urgently reviewing the situation. But what is there to review? It should be simple. Taxpayers' money should not be used to both prosecute and defend a senior police officer facing personal gross misconduct charges. They should pay for their defence out of their own pockets.

On 15 November (unless you live in London) we go to the polls to elect Police and Crime Commissioners. I hope every candidate states that if elected they will stop this abuse of taxpayers' money. They should also stop us paying the individual subscriptions for senior officers to CPOSA. It is their professional association, and they are more than capable of paying the fees themselves.

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