Sunday, 23 March 2014

Allegations of procurement fraud at Police Federation have lessons for all

Confidence in the police is probably at an all time low as a result of Plebgate, behaviour of undercover officers, hidden union bank accounts, Hillsborough, 'stop and search', and the failure to get any form of closure for the Lawrence family. The last thing the 'Peeler's Union' want is more damage to its reputation through a scandal of questionable procurement practices. Yet, 'Fraud squad investigates police union boss over charity deal' screamed out of today's Sunday Times.

Those implicated claim to be innocent yet they will now be paying a high personal price, whether or not the allegations are proved.

There is little doubt there was a lack of good judgement by those concerned. I don't think that lack of good judgement is solely with the specific individuals under investigation, I think a lack of good judgement was exhibited by all those concerned with the oversight of the Federation. They could have stopped the 'questionable' procurement - isn't that what oversight is supposed to include? It is my interpretation of the Bribery Act that they also failed to put in place processes to prevent bribery in procurement - had they done so, there wouldn't have been the opportunity to engage in the 'questionable' activities.

A QC representing the individual under the spotlight, acknowledges that appropriate procedures hadn't been followed. Contracts were rushed through in the absence of competition and awarded to friends who appear to have charged excessive fees. Advice from the charity's lawyer and auditor was ignored. There was also an absence of due diligence in the award.

This is a complete and utter mess yet I think it is far from unique. I believe too many organisations needlessly leave themselves and their staff open to allegations of impropriety, partly believing it will never happen to them, partly through complacency, partly through naivety.

How vulnerable is your organisation? How vulnerable are you?

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