Police staff censured for blowing whistle on chauffeured trips

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The head of Cumbria Constabulary has said his staff and officers have “a duty” to protect privileged information amid an inquiry into a leak over a crime commissioner’s trips in a chauffeur-driven limousine.

Two police workers and a member of the public were arrested after information about how taxpayers’ cash was being spent was leaked to the local press.

The details revealed that Cumbria’s new police and crime commissioner, Richard Rhodes, the Conservative candidate elected last November, took two evening trips to events in a hired chauffeur-driven Mercedes at a cost of about £700.

The police civilian workers, a man aged 47 and a woman aged 50, were held on April 10 as part of an internal investigation. They were arrested on suspicion of data protection offences and misconduct in a public office.

They are suspended from work as is a 59-year-old male police worker who was interviewed on a voluntary basis.

On Thursday, a 54-year-old man from Penrith was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

All three have been bailed until May 24 pending further inquiries.

Temporary chief constable Bernard Lawson said: “I am aware of community concerns over recently reported allegations of information being unlawfully leaked to the local press. Cumbria Constabulary has well established internal whistleblowing procedures for issues to be raised by officers and staff, and dealt with in a proper manner.”

The Carlisle News and Star first published a story showing that Mr Rhodes’ office was charged £313 to take him and his wife to and from their home in the south of the county to Rydal Hall at Ambleside in January.