Staffordshire Police goes £97,000 over travel budget
Police in Staffordshire have been told they must seek verbal permission before booking hotels, trains and flights for work purposes – after going almost £100,000 over budget last year.
A report to the Ethics, Transparency and Audit Panel showed an overspend of 68 per cent or £97,497 for 2017/18.
Last year’s budget was supposed to stay within £141,915. However, the force spent £239,412.
That breaks down to £117,413.34 spent on travel and £82,541.19 on hotels.
The ETAP members are made up of residents from across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, who examine local policing to strengthen public scrutiny.
It met last week to scrutinise audit reports and review the annual accounts including travel and hotel bookings of both Staffordshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis.
ETAP members Clare Cowley and Susan Westacott prepared and presented a report to the panel which found officers did not need permission to book their own hotel and travel arrangements.
Speaking at the meeting, Ms Cowley said: “ETAP acknowledges the need for the force to trust its staff and streamline the process to maximise savings.
“However, the policy should make explicit the need to obtain permission to travel from supervisors, given the size of the overspend.”
Chief finance officer for Staffordshire Police, John Bloomer said: “The main driver of the significant overspend is the regional organised crime unit.”
Mr Bloomer added the unit has only been in operation for one full year and it could be that its budgeting needs were still being worked out.
ETAP recommended that police force policy wording is reviewed to reflect the need to obtain verbal approval for travel and hotel bookings from staff supervisors.
Periodic checks should also be made to include hotel and travel bookings in the force’s audit or anti-corruption schedules of work.
By Joe Burn, Local Democracy Reporter