Fifteen posties taken to court for dishonesty
Fifteen postmen and women in the Black Country and Staffordshire have been found guilty of fraud, theft and hoarding packages in less than two years.
All of the workers are no longer employed by Royal Mail after either resigning or being sacked.
All 15 went through the courts and given punishments including jail terms, community orders and fines. The information was revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
Marie Teasdale, informations rights officer at Royal Mail, today said the vast majority of workers were honest. She said: "Royal Mail Group operates a zero-tolerance approach across the business to dishonesty. While the overwhelming majority of all letters posted arrive safely at the correct destination, we remain very vigilant to any risk to the operation.
"In 2011-12, Royal Mail Group employed nearly 159,000 people in the United Kingdom, and it remains the case that the huge majority are scrupulously honest and take great care over the mail entrusted to them by our customers."
So far this financial year, two posties have been given community orders – one for theft of post and another for intentionally delaying packages. Another was cautioned for fraud and one more punished with a fine or conditional discharge – Royal Mail did not specify which – for offences relating to their duties.
The strongest sentence was for father-of-two Craig Richards, aged 34, from New Invention, Willenhall, who was jailed for 18 months for stealing cash and gifts from thousands of letters and packages he should have delivered.
Richards, who had worked for Royal Mail for eight-and-a-half years, set up an ebay account to sell DVDs he had stolen from post he was supposed to deliver. He also gave stolen hair straighteners, fake eyelashes and earrings to his girlfriend, saying they were gifts. He was sentenced to an 18-month jail term in November.
In the previous financial year, four posties were punished including one community order, one jail term and two suspended sentences. Another five workers faced the courts for intentionally delaying packages, two received community orders and there were three suspended sentences. A final staff member appeared for criminal damage and was handed either a fine or conditional discharge, but Royal Mail did not record which.
Internal investigations were launched after posties on rounds triggered bosses' suspicions.
Royal Mail said it could not reveal the cost of monitoring its employees but methods mentioned in court cases included the use of CCTV cameras, test packages and tracking devices placed in letters.