Hundreds of top British cops defrauded the taxpayer for millions in phony expense racket

Here's a neat companion story to the nation-rocking news that UK Members of Parliament have used their expense accounts to commit massive acts of fraud against the taxpayer: it turns out that Scotland Yard's top detectives have been doing the exact same thing, charging millions to their official AmEx cards, taking huge cash-advances at ATMs, buying clothes for their girlfriends, charging custom-made suits bought from mail-order bespoke tailors, etc. One officer charged £40,000 to his card in a single year. These were elite cops from special units -- including the anti-terror squad, whose members are charged with inflating their expenses from investigating the 7/7 bombings.
"It beggars belief that our police, who are supposed to be solving crime, are suspected of fraud on a grand scale."

Auditors at the Metropolitan Police Authority have spent two years examining receipts from the accounts of more than 3,500 officers. The Amex cards were issued in 2006 to detectives from specialist operations, which includes counter-terrorism and those involved in diplomatic and royalty protection.

The scheme was then extended to the specialist crime directorate, which counters organised crime, as well as conducting sensitive inquiries such as the cash-for-honours investigation...

Sources have told the Observer that some detectives had fallen into the habit of withdrawing hundreds of pounds at a time from cashpoints. Other officers appear to have filled in blank receipts from restaurants to account for cash payments.

Card fraud probe targets 300 detectives


  1. “It beggars belief that our police, who are supposed to be solving crime, are suspected of fraud on a grand scale.”

    Um, they’re also supposed to lead by example, no?

    (It’s not like the RCMP were ever caught lying, eh?)

  2. it’s jest like mumping apples, innit? Only these are really, really BIG apples. Perks really.

  3. I’m not apologizing for the cops or the MPs, but I think it’s human nature: if I was in a position with a free credit card account and no oversight I know I would be tempted to charge things not related to business, and find ways to mentally justify it (“This $30 gin-and-tonic IS a business expense. . . I NEED it to unwind after a hard day on the job . . . just like the cash advance I charged so I could have $5 bills to stuff in the stripper’s g-strings!”) And the more you get away with it, the more you will push the limit of what you think is acceptable.

    Seems the real problem here is lack of oversight, or did the person in charge of oversight also have a paid credit card he/she could abuse?

  4. It’s also human nature that positions of power and authority attract the very people most likely to abuse it.

  5. illlich@4: that “what did you expect?” logic reads a little distasteful. the problem is in the ethics of draining public funds for personal use.

  6. perhaps there would be more public sympathy for police who committed minor indiscretions if there weren’t quite so many police joyously beating the shit out of innocents and revelling in the stripping of basic civil rights by bad legislation?
    What do you think? Also, stealing a cheap meal is not comparable to stealing a custom-made suit, is it?
    They are rotten, if they are not severely punished and expelled, no cop will merit or deserve any respect from the public that carries them. Why didn’t the honest cops turn in the thieves? And the police have the nerve to demand cooperation from the public?

    Police or gangsters, that’s the choice here.

  7. Just think. These are “top cops”, the elites, the best that Scotland Yard has.

    Kind of makes the term “criminal” meaningless as a distinction, doesn’t it? Because that’s the system of law enforcement as it stands today – A battle between criminals and officially sanctioned, empowered, elite criminals.

    Is anyone really surprised by this?

  8. “Is anyone really surprised by this?”

    It certainly says something about human nature and human society doesn’t it? But what does it say?

    I’d like to draw an analogy. We humans wear masks beneath which competing evolutionary drives squirm and writhe. I think that EvPsych has in a sense lifted up that rock to show what’s underneath. People think that the masks we wear, the social customs and niceties we begrudgingly observe, are a false self, I disagree. I think that is where we are most human.

    Society mirrors the self. We need a better mask so to speak.

  9. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

    John Emerich Edward Dilbert Acton (actually his name was Dalberg Acton but I couldn’t resist it).

  10. email-order bespoke tailors ???

    How does this work? Do you measure yourself?

    Or email yourself to the shop?

  11. Human nature? Seems to me those tax dollars are paying them to *curb* the excesses of human nature, not to emulate them.

    Off to Australia with them.

  12. Wow youre kidding me, so cops can be criminals? Hmm maybe its time to start charging them with assault when they attack innocent people.???

  13. Sigh. We really do get it from all sides, don’t we?

    Then again, we are the nation that produced this woman, so maybe we deserve it.

  14. I think, “What do you expect?” kind of hits it on the head. Not so much retrospectively, but more what should have been thought when these people were given the expense accounts. Given what a cop should know about human nature, a cop’s boss should know enough to check that the cop’s not going wild with it. It’s a basic management skill, surely?

  15. At least it explains why the police declined to prosecute any MPs over the MP expenses scandal …

  16. “You could live in MY world?”

    Is there room in your fridge? Maybe in the lettuce crisper?

  17. fridge “box”, please. Yes, Im sure I could accommodate you in the south wing, though the architecture is a bit naff.

  18. Thank you to the unpaid, citizen blogger with the Twitter feed that broke this story.

    Oh, wait…

  19. What I’d like to know is how much of the reporting on these scandals was due to the “orwellian” record keeping methods employed after 9/11. I’ve read that due to the financial security measures enacted due to the patriot act more tax evaders were caught than terrorists.
    Not condoning the police state, just saying that I’m perfectly fine with it as long as transparency goes both ways. If anything, it should be public officials lives that should be on record than private citizens since the custodians have more potential for harm.
    This also proves two things: Either Americans are better at hiding their dirty deeds (per diem accounts, false paperwork instead of credit cards, giving money to fake/nonexistent informants) or the British are just better at keeping track of their money. I’m gonna say the former.

  20. OK, if I accept all those arguments about “human nature”, how come Scandinavians have such a corruption free culture?

    They have corruption, but England looks like a Banana Republic compared to Sweden:
    Summer house and TV fees. Wow. Amazing crimes. Human Nature? Something is going on there.

    Of course, Venezuela makes England look not like Sweden, but like Utopia.

  21. @34- That’s probably a very deep question. If I had to guess, I’d say that in Scandanavia, they’re inclined to think of their neighbors, coworkers, etc, as their friends, and in England they’re inclined to think of them as their enemies.
    You cooperate with and work for the best interests of your friends; you screw over your enemies whenever you can.

  22. What really “beggers belief” is how they found so many places that took American Express.

  23. Anonymous: It might be that, but then all those arguments about Human Nature are mere rationalizations made by people who did not even committed the crime!

  24. hostile climates breed cooperative societies. Look at the Inuit; they mostly got along, nearly all murders were crimes of passion and the odd sociopath that came along “fell in the sea”. Which isn’t to say those goddammned Swedes didn’t do their share of invading neighbours.

  25. This totally reminds me of that scene in Beverly Hills Cop in which Axel is trying to explain the Ferrari and his custom suits to the boss.

    Deep undercover. Deep, deep, deep undercover.

  26. @#takuan

    I was expecting a picture of mark thatcher there, who is more terrifying by far than that dollosaur. At least it didn’t try and start a coup in equatorial guinea…

    Also does anyone read the b3ta newsletter, great headline this week. “APPEAL: JUST £1 CAN BUY ANOTHER TRIPWIRE FOR THATCHER’S HOUSE”

  27. Historically the police have **always** been the sort of organisation that, if you gave them an inch, they would take all the rulers you had.

    The job of a government is *not* to make the police’s job easier, but to stop them from behaving like a bunch of power-mad hooligans. In the UK we have completely lost the plot on this.

    I should say that I’m not tarring all officers with the same brush. I’ve met nice policemen.

    I’m just saying that it goes with the job: you give a group of people extra powers and tell them to boss around everyone else, then they will take that a bit too literally. And that’s just *individual* policemen — for the police as an organisation, it’s even more extreme.

    (If you’re skeptical, google “Stamford Prison Experiment”…)

  28. Talking of cash for honours I wonder when they’ll start back tracking and get to Thatcher. She aint no lady even if she calls herself one.

  29. We need to stop being distracted by the media and notice that the real problem lies with our own government. They are less than fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. Especially when they are on the constant prowl for more sources of our tax dollars.

  30. Crime: is an industry which is “regulated” by police. I use this term because, police and crime go together. Think about this, what would happen if crime went down too much?

  31. In the meantime a very good friend of mine – a totally law abiding, hard working person who happens to be a pre-op TG woman – has just been stopped, harassed and searched by Police at East Croydon Station, which apart from the emotional trauma, also caused her to miss her train. According to the police, they were doing the stop and search under Section 44 of the anti-terrorism act.

    Just how many transexual terrorists are there walking the streets – is there something they’re not telling us? I guess there must be – otherwise it would be a terrible waste of Police time, that otherwise might have been spent fighting Croydon’s serious street crime problem…

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