England

Norfolk Police orders review of mileage expenses

  • 7 February 2014
  • From the section England

Norfolk Police has ordered a review of mileage expenses paid to officers and staff who use their own vehicles.

The news emerged after Stephen Bett, Norfolk's police and crime commissioner (PCC), paid back more than £2,700 for trips between home and work.

A spokesman for Mr Bett said although members of his staff attended the meeting at which the review was discussed, they did not order it.

The force said it was "prudent" to begin the review now.

'Above board'

In November, the BBC revealed Mr Bett claimed more than £3,000 for trips from his home in Thornham, near Hunstanton, to his office in Wymondham.

Norfolk PCC Stephen Bett paid back more than £2,700 for his trips

He had designated his home as his workplace, which he said allowed him to claim mileage when travelling from there on official business.

Mr Bett, who was elected as independent PCC in November 2012 on an annual salary of £70,000, said the claims were "transparent and above board" but last month announced he had paid back an amount calculated by independent auditors.

Subsequently it emerged that the force was conducting its own review of mileage expenses.

It currently pays allowances of between 13.7p and 65p per mile to officers and civilian staff using their own vehicles for work purposes.

In a statement, the force said: "The constabulary is mindful of the current interest in expenses claims and felt it prudent to initiate this review now."

A force spokeswoman said officials from the Office of the PCC for Norfolk (OPCCN) were asked to attend a meeting to discuss the review, along with representatives from the force's human resources and finance departments and from staff associations.

Journeys analysed

A spokesman for the PCC said: "The OPCCN is aware of a review of the force expenses policy but did not instruct the force to carry out such a review.

"The OPCCN chief finance officer and chief executive were invited to attend an initial meeting to observe, which they did."

Paul Ridgway, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said it was being consulted as part of the review.

"Officers occasionally use their own private vehicles to undertake non-emergency journeys on behalf of the force, and each journey is analysed to ensure it is the most efficient mode of transport for that journey," he said.

"It is only right that officers should be recompensed for the mileage they incur and each mileage claim is scrutinised to ensure it is compliant with insurance requirements, force policy and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs rules.

Norfolk Police said it "felt it prudent to initiate this review now"

"Bearing in mind the cost of fuel and general maintenance of vehicles, we will be making the case that the review should not cause officers to be worse off."

Jon Harvey, a Labour town councillor in Buckingham and a blogger on PCCs, said: "I sincerely hope that there is a significant evidential basis for this review.

"Without such, it risks raising questions about the integrity of police officers and staff that would be unjustified and which would be the opposite of what I understand to be the PCC's view: that nothing should damage the reputation of Norfolk Police."

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