Police expenses probe was 'a waste of time' says crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld (From Banbury Cake)
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Police expenses probe was 'a waste of time' says crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld
THE county’s police and crime commissioner says a £1,830 investigation into his expenses was a waste of time.
Anthony Stansfeld said officials had been right to investigate it – but said the probe had only been carried out because of false claims in a national newspaper.
An audit, which was carried out after a complaint, led to the Thames Valley police and crime commissioner (PCC) paying back £142.
The Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel received the complaint after Mr Stansfeld was accused of fiddling his expenses to the tune of more than £1,000.
Last night Mr Stansfeld said such audits were the price of “outside scrutiny”.
But he said the process had been unnecessary.
“If somebody puts in a formal complaint to the police and crime panel, it has to be investigated,” he said.
“I knew perfectly well I had not overclaimed. In fact, I had underclaimed.”
Mr Stansfeld was accused of setting up a “sham” office after claiming mileage expenses from an office four miles from his West Berkshire home to the police headquarters in Kidlington.
Claiming at a 45p-a-mile rate, he claimed £1,064.15 for travelling 2,339 miles during the two months he worked from the Hungerford office.
In the two months before he set up the office on February 8, he had claimed just £30.50 for 50 miles of travelling.
Mr Stansfeld said complaints should always be investigated, but said this particular one was based on an unfair newspaper report.
He added: “It is the price you pay for outside scrutiny but I regard it as a waste of time because the complaint was based on a malicious report in a national newspaper.”
He said he had stopped working from the Berkshire office well before the story was published.
But the audit, published in July, found the PCC had incorrectly claimed six out of 41 claims totalling £142.20.
Mr Stansfeld, who earns £85,000-a-year, put it down to a calculation error from staff who process his expenses for him and he agreed to pay the cash back.
The investigation also found he was entitled to £194 in mileage claims he has decided not to chase.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner paid Oxfordshire County Council to provide the audit.
County council member for St Margaret’s John Howson, who ran for the police role as a Liberal Democrat, said the audit was justified as it had revealed Mr Stansfeld had overclaimed.
He said: “If you have overclaimed, you have broken the rules. The problem with audit and scrutiny is you never know what you are going to find until you look.”
And he added: “When you are dealing with many millions of pounds and have a big salary, this sort of money might seem trivial, but to the people on the other end of the scale it is much less trivial.”
The audit also looked into whether the PCC was entitled to use a car and support officer to drive Mr Stansfeld around the region.
But the panel wrote to the unnamed complainant and said staffing was a matter for the PCC, adding: “At the next PCC election, the electorate can take a view on how he staffed his office.”
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