NEWS

2012-01-09

Cop resigns over expenses

A TOP police boss has been forced to resign after claiming £200 in unauthorised expenses for a hotel stay for himself and a female colleague.

Derek Smith, Director of Finance and Resources for West Midlands Police, quit his £121,000-a-year post after a misconduct inquiry was launched by the force.

The female colleague is also currently at the centre of an internal investigation into her conduct.

An outside force had been called in to investigate allegations made against qualified accountant Mr Smith, who was also a civilian member of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

But he resigned at the end of October, before the inquiry team from Derbyshire Police concluded its probe.

He has since offered to pay back the £200 he claimed for one night’s hotel stay, travel and other expenses.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “West Midlands Police’s Professional Standards Unit was made aware of an allegation of misconduct towards the end of 2011.

“The allegation concerned the use of public funds in connection with expenses, travel and accommodation.

“To ensure a totally independent enquiry, the investigation into these allegations was referred to another force – Derbyshire Police – which presented its findings in early November.

“However, in the meantime the individual concerned has decided to tender his resignation. This has been accepted as it is in the best interest of the force.

"The second individual concerned continues to be investigated under the police staff disciplinary arrangements.'

“The individual concerned remains in their current role.”

Mr Smith had spent 20 years with the force and had been Director of Finance until 2008,  which saw him hold a range of responsibilities, including managing the human resources department, the police estate and its fleet of vehicles.

His seniority saw him become part of the force’s command team and, through his ACPO role, he has advised the Government on charging for police services.

He also helped spearhead the force’s biggest ever costcutting drive involving the loss of hundreds of police officer and civilian jobs. The force needs to make £750 million of cuts and savings over four years.

In his senior role, which saw him attend conferences from time to time, Mr Smith was authorised to charge legitimate expenses to the force – including hotel stays.

But his fall from grace began after he booked into a Manchester hotel, where he was joined by a female colleague, and charged the stay to the force. The stay was not linked to any police-related event.

The £200 is understood to include the accommodation bill, drinks, food and travel expenses.

West Midlands Police has defended its decision to accept Mr Smith’s resignation, rather than pursuing the costly misconduct proceedings. 

A spokesman said: “Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, it was felt by the individual concerned, the force and the Police Authority that this person’s position would be untenable.

“This decision was agreed by West Midlands Police’s Chief Constable. The chair of West Midlands Police Authority has been fully briefed and the authority continues to work with the force on reviewing the future shape of the senior team.

“The value is around £200. The individual concerned has offered to pay this back and this will be accepted.”

The force has also confirmed that an investigation is continuing into the female worker. It is understood that there is no suggestion of any allegations of financial impropriety involving the woman.

It is also understood that the allegation of misconduct is not serious enough for her to risk losing her role.

Neither Mr Smith nor his female colleague were available for comment last night.