Shake-up on mobile phones at police authority after costs hit £15,000

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PHONE bills totalling more than £15,000 were paid on the corporate credit card belonging to a police authority chief executive.

The bills paid off by Joe McCarthy included those run up by police authority members on mobile phones.

Cleveland Police Authority said there would have been checks on the phone spending through the provision of “itemised bills with a requirement for a contribution to personal phone calls being required”.

However, a spokesman was also quick to point out the practice had now changed and added: “There are no longer any members’ mobile phone bills paid on corporate credit cards.”

The police authority was unable to clarify who was checking what the chief executive’s corporate credit card was being used for.

Some of the individual payments, which were made between 2006 and 2010 when Mr McCarthy left the police authority, are eye-catchingly high. They included amounts of £854.05, £744.03, £699.47 and £523.54 to Vodafone, plus three of more than £400 and another eight in excess of £300.

In all, 115 separate phone payments were made.

The police authority spokesman said: “The authority did not have a financial system that was capable of handling, controlling and processing direct debit payments and therefore expenditure such as telephone bills and telephone contracts were in certain cases paid for on credit cards.

“Bills of not only Mr McCarthy but also police authority members would have been included in the amounts on the credit card of Mr McCarthy where members did not have their own credit card.”

He added: “In terms of mobile phone bills, it was working practice that a contribution of 10 per cent of the overall bill was made as a contribution towards the costs of private use of the phone. Both officers and members did regularly make payments to the authority in line with the above practice.

“The authority now has available to it better technology and therefore it is possible for employees to highlight each and every individual call made for private use and make a payment to the authority to this end.”