Tuesday 3 March 2009

I Fancy A Paid Holiday From Work…

…what can I steal, I wonder?
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.

Police rules say they should have booked it in as lost or stolen property but they decided to share it with colleagues instead.
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.

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.

The case was later dropped but they were then fined four days' wages, £400 each, for a minor breach of police rules.
That’s right – steal items from members of the public and you get a 18 month paid holiday!

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.

A source told the newspaper: "These guys and their families were put through hell for something trivial."
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.

‘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.

"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."
I’d agree, Matthew, but frankly, I don’t think I can afford another 18 month holiday for them too. Do you…?

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!


Letters From A Tory said...

A very sad story. Why do we insist of these ridiculous lengthy disciplinary procedures - suspend them, have a hearing the following week, make a decision and stick with it for gods sake.

Oldrightie said...

The politics and behaviour of Brown and Labours' madhouse. On and on it goes.

mark said...

I do think you are being a bit harsh on the officers involved.

How many people would think twice about letting their children use pens/stationery brought home from work?

I agree that it may be desirable to enforce higher standards against the police - thin end of the wedge and all that - but i could see how a perfectly decent copper could do this.

I've just finished reading "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely and he has completed a number of experiments in relation to testing the honesty of person(s). Cans of coke left in communal dorm fridges disappear within 72 hours. Cash left in the fridge stays there. In this, and a series of other tests he has more or less proven that people are very honest with cash but not so with non-cash items.

People will justify the taking of small non-cash items to themselves (fringe benefit, not hurting anyone). This seems to be human nature so I can't see the point of destroying careers over it.


Furry Conservative said...

Not sure if you covered this already:


Outrageous, but entirely expected.

JuliaM said...

"Why do we insist of these ridiculous lengthy disciplinary procedures.."

You mean, in the public sector, right? Because I doubt this happens in Tesco or BT...

"I do think you are being a bit harsh on the officers involved.

How many people would think twice about letting their children use pens/stationery brought home from work?"

Yeah, that's theft too. And the fact that 'everybody does it' (they don't) doesn't make it right. Or moral.

And that's before you get into the stupidity, in this day and age, of drinking or eating anything left in a public space...

"This seems to be human nature so I can't see the point of destroying careers over it."

But as we tolerate the 'small' thefts, we are sending signals that bigger thefts are OK. And if they'll steal food or other small items, why not cash, or drugs?

"Outrageous, but entirely expected."

Yup. And sadly, I expect to see a lot more of it too...

JuliaM said...

"Five bottles of Vimto found in a cardboard box beside a railway line?"

This time.

Next time? Your wallet, that you left on a train?

JuliaM said...

"In the case of the former, there is no faintly realistic prospect of restoring the goods to their owner..."

How did they know? They didn't try, after all.

The rules and regulations state that it should have been handed in to Lost Property. Don't forget they were, eventually, found guilty of breaching those rules and fined.

"The 'thin end of the wedge' argument strikes me as plain ridiculous in this instance, but I guess we'll just have to agree to differ on that."

Oh, I'm sure most people would regard it as petty, like the 'company pen' example used by mark above.

But the problem is, it's similar to the 'broken windows' theory of crime - tolerate the small stuff, and you are on the slippery slope...

Anonymous said...

your members are thieves, according to the police regulations,


They are thieves according to THE LAW.

That has NOTHING to do with "police regulations".

Repüeat after me;


Von Brandenburg-Preußen.