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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Police workers arrested after expenses leak

Two police workers have been arrested on suspicion of misconduct and leaking information about the crime commissioner’s expenses.

Richard Rhodes photo
Richard Rhodes

The two, who have not been named, were arrested after details of Richard Rhodes’ £700 trips in a chauffeur-driven limo were revealed.

Cumbria police today confirmed that a 47-year-old man and 50-year-old woman had been arrested on suspicion of data protection offences and misconduct in a public office.

Both, who are police civilian workers, have been suspended from work and bailed until next month. A third, a 59-year-old man, has been interviewed and suspended. He was not arrested.

The arrests come after details were leaked about Mr Rhodes’ use of a chauffeur-driven Mercedes to take him to two evening engagements.

Documents revealed his office was charged £313 to take him and his wife to-and-from their home in the south of the county to Rydal Hall at Ambleside, in January.

Another bill of £385 was for a trip from home and back to The Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite Lake, in February.

Bosses at Mr Rhodes’ office said the trips were the only two times a private hire company was used to drive him to a night meeting or speaking engagement – and he stopped this practice once he saw the bill.

Stuart Edwards, chief executive of the Cumbria Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said a driver and car had been hired for Mr Rhodes’ “personal safety”.

This was because of the miles he covered and the hours he was working.

On both occasions, a firm marketing itself as a provider of executive vehicles was used. It provided an E-Class Mercedes saloon.

Mr Rhodes was elected to the new post of police and crime commissioner in November and last week published his four-year police plan.

Mr Edwards said: “A pivotal part of the police and crime commissioner’s role is to meet the public and listen to their views on the future policing priorities.

“As part of gaining people’s views the commissioner undertakes a number of evening speaking engagements across the very large geographic county of Cumbria, often finishing late at night and following a busy working day.

“As a result of the long hours the commissioner was working it was decided for personal safety reasons that support would be provided in terms of a driver for some evening functions with long and late return journeys.

“There were only two instances when a private hire company was used to drive Mr Rhodes to an evening meeting or speaking engagement and these both resulted in a travel time of between one-and-half-hours and two hours late at night.

“When the final invoices were received and the commissioner was appraised of the cost he immediately stopped the practice of hiring drivers.

“A review took place with alternative arrangements now being progressed. The first engagement was a meeting with high-ranking church figures while the second was a speaking engagement.

Documents show that both times the chauffeur waited at the venue before returning the couple home.

The first job lasted eight hours and 30 minutes while the second clocked in at seven hours.

Mr Rhodes has been provided with a car to carry out his duties and he also used a hire car while waiting for this to be delivered, his office confirmed.

Mr Edwards added: “The commissioner, as expected, spends considerable time out talking to people in the community.

“Again, given the large geographic area of Cumbria, this results in considerable mileage.”

Have your say

OMG Are you telling me he's still got a job after all these comments?

Well, it's obvious - he's his own boss and can hire and fire who he likes - and he's hardly going to fire himself is he? He's not gonna kiss 5.5k per month away just 'cos his electorate say so.

Posted by Thatcherite on 30 April 2013 at 13:23

Having voted for him can I withdraw my vote. It is typical that once elected the do their own thing and are not interested in the general public. He should go now or be sacked

Posted by Robert Watt on 28 April 2013 at 07:55

View all 139 comments on this article

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