NORTH Yorkshire’s crime commissioner borrowed a police car to get to meetings after her own vehicle suffered a flat tyre.
Police officers subsequently had to hire a car to carry out their duties because Julia Mulligan had kept the borrowed vehicle for longer than expected.
Details of the incident have come to light following an anonymous complaint. But the police and crime panel, which oversees the commissioner’s work, has cleared her of any wrongdoing following an investigation.
However, a report explaining the circumstances to the complaints committee conceded that “minor changes” would be made to the way vehicles are used following the incident.
Ms Mulligan’s own car suffered a flat tyre on October 23, last year.
The complaints committee which investigated the matter was told by the commissioner’s office that her busy schedule that day meant she could not find time to arrange a repair or ask others to do so without disrupting senior officers and staff.
The committee was told that “the Police and Crime Commissioner did not request a hire vehicle or pool vehicle” but because of her busy schedule “senior officers and staff undertook to put in place a workable solution to enable the Commissioner to undertake her role”.
Ms Mulligan was given a police “pool” car which officers can book if needed for their duties.
Her office’s response to the complaint concedes it was an “oversight” that it was not realised at the time that the police vehicle would not be returned by 7am the following day when it was due to be used by officers.
In fact, the car was not returned by Ms Mulligan until the morning of October 25.
The complaints committee was told that the £60.34 spent on hiring a car for the officers was less than the amount the commissioner would have claimed in mileage expenses if she had been using her own car.
The response to the complaint said: “We believe that this was a valid, sensible solution.
“It did create work for administration staff to make the arrangements but this is part of their role.”
North Yorkshire Police previously expected anyone who used one of its vehicles to go through a basic driver training course. That requirement has now been dropped and those considered “casual drivers” only have to show they have a driving licence.
A spokesman for the commissioner was unable to say whether the policy was in force at the time Ms Mulligan used the car but said that she would have been properly insured in any case.
He said it was “standard practice” for officers to use hire cars where pool vehicles are not available.
North Yorkshire county councillor Carl Les, who chairs the police and crime panel, said it had accepted the report of the complaints committee which recommended no further action should be taken. The anonymous complaint was initially addressed to York Council leader James Alexander who passed it on to the panel.
He said: “The correct place to investigate this anonymous complaint was at the police and crime panel and I was not surprised no further action was deemed necessary.
“Some will be surprised the commissioner was authorised to use the vehicle in question and I understand procedures will be updated in light of this investigation.”