British Transport Police spent £200,000 investigating their own officers for "stealing" five bottles of Vimto which they had found.That’s outrageous!
It shouldn’t have cost anything like that much to punish these thieves:
Transport officers Rob Mitchell, 40, and Kris Catterall, 38, found the soft drink cordial in a cardboard box beside a railway line, The Sun reported.But of course, being public sector workers, they aren’t subject to the summary dismissal that would have greeted any other worker who stole items for their own consumption.
Police rules say they should have booked it in as lost or stolen property but they decided to share it with colleagues instead.
And the disciplinary procedure that finally hands out a slapped wrist is long, cumbersome and fraught with potential danger for their management, hence the cost. That’s the real injustice here:
When it was spotted in a mess room cupboard the constables were suspended on full pay for 18 months.That’s right – steal items from members of the public and you get a 18 month paid holiday!
The case was later dropped but they were then fined four days' wages, £400 each, for a minor breach of police rules.
Who pays in the end? We do:
Insiders told The Sun that the case, in Stockport, Manchester, had cost taxpayers £200,000 in wages and legal fees.No, they weren’t. They should have considered themselves lucky not to be summarily dismissed. Instead, they get to put their feet up for 18 months on the taxpayer’s purse.
A source told the newspaper: "These guys and their families were put through hell for something trivial."
‘Hell’…? We should all go to hell if that’s the only ‘punishment’:
Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "This is an absurd and shocking waste of taxpayers' money and utter incompetence on behalf of the senior officers involved.I’d agree, Matthew, but frankly, I don’t think I can afford another 18 month holiday for them too. Do you…?
"If disciplinary action needed to be taken it should have been done quickly and without wasting money. The police chiefs who oversaw this episode should be held accountable to taxpayers."
And of course, the public sector union that represents them thinks they are the ones hard done by:
Alex Robertson, chairman of the British Transport Police Federation which represented both men, told The Sun: "To be suspended for so long over something so trivial will have put the officers and their families under great stress."Quite apart from the point that yes, your members are thieves, according to the police regulations, Alex, did it ever occur to you or anyone else that drinking items purporting to be Vimto left out on a station platform might not be the wisest course of action…?
Maybe they should have prosecuted them for a breach of Health and Safety instead. It might have been quicker, if not cheaper!