Police body vows to act after probe on credit-card spending

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A POLICE authority has pledged to try to recover any unlawful expenditure on corporate credit cards after an audit revealed significant failings in spending controls.

Cleveland Police Authority yesterday agreed to urgently tighten rules governing the use of credit cards and also decided to take further steps if spending was found to be unlawful.

The moves come after the Yorkshire Post revealed that restaurant bills on a card issued to the authority’s former chairman, Dave McLuckie, totalled more than £4,000 between 2006 and 2010, with one bill running to £767.53, two topping £300 and five more above £200.

Councillor McLuckie, who resigned from the authority last May, has declined to comment on the use of the card.

The Cleveland force and its police authority are at the centre of a major inquiry – called Operation Sacristy – which is largely staffed by North Yorkshire Police and overseen by the head of the new National Crime Agency, Keith Bristow. The inquiry is considering potential criminal issues and possible officer misconduct.

Coun McLuckie was arrested on suspicion of corrupt practice in November. He has categorically denied any wrongdoing.

Meeting yesterday, the police authority’s executive agreed to adopt the recommendations of an internal audit including overhauling the protocol governing card usage to ensure tighter control of spending, provision of receipts, value for money and potential disciplinary action for non-compliance.

Afterwards, current authority chairman Stuart Drummond said: “The authority fully accepted the recommendations in their entirety.

“If there are any unlawful expenses – which we won’t know until the results of Sacristy come out – we will do our utmost to recover the costs incurred.”

He added: “Members are very keen to recover costs where possible and get the people in question to justify and be accountable for what they have spent.”