Auditors called in to examine the American Express accounts of Scotland Yard detectives have revealed that over 300 detectives are under suspicion in an investigation that was at first thought to involve just 40 police employees. So far, 3500 records have been examined, so approximately 1 in every 11 officers have been caught up in the findings.
Today's Observer reports that items purchased with Amex credit cards have included fishing rods, suits and women's clothing - we're not too sure why a newspaper with such impeccable credentials as the Observer feels the need to make a definition between suits and women's clothing rather than just saying clothing; possibly they're trying to suggest that a male officer has been buying some nice frocks and lingerie either for a girlfriend or for himself, but we're sure everyone is aware that there are both male and female police officers.
Officers involved in specialist operation work were issued with the cards in 2006. Officers from the Specialist Crime Directorate were included in a scheme a short while later, the intention in both cases being that they would be used to pay for subsistence and travel so that officers were not forced to spend their own money when on long investigations which often take them far from Scotland Yard for extended periods of time.
One officer spent £40,000 in a single year despite not having permission to do so from his seniors, leading Jenny Jones of the Green Party to claim: "Taxpayers have every right to be angry about this." She's quite right - we're getting ripped off left, right and centre!
Seemingly-flagrant examples of abuse have included cashpoint withdrawals of several hundred pounds and the purchase of three-piece suits in the Middle East - it is also alleged that some officers have obtained blank restaurant receipts, later filling them in with details of fictional meals to account for spending.
Officers suspected of dishonestly spending £1000 or more have subsequently been referred to the Directorate of Professional Standards who will look further into the allegations and decide what needs to be done. It is understood that 46 cases have been passed on to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for further study.
"It beggars belief," continues Ms. Jones, "that our police, who are supposed to be solving crime, are suspected of fraud on a grand scale." She may very well be the only person thinking that way - the majority of the British public would probably believe just about anything we were told right now when it comes to authority figures lining their own pockets.