Friday, October 17, 2008

Force paid £385,438 to company run by police officers wife

THE wife of a senior North Yorkshire Police officer received nearly £400,000 from the force in payments to her training companies, a damning audit report has revealed.

Peta Ackerley is married to the officer who was in charge of the force's training, Supt Paul Ackerley.

The figure is included in a damning audit report on the links between Supt Ackerley and his wife's companies, which often got work without going through proper procurement processes.

It can also be revealed that Supt Ackerley will escape disciplinary action from the force after his application to retire was accepted by Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell.

In June, the Crown Prosecution Service decided there would be no charges against the officer following a police inquiry.

Supt Ackerley then faced three disciplinary charges for misconduct but will not have to answer them after Mr Maxwell decided to accept his application to retire after 30 years' service.

Although officers have the right to retire after 30 years, North Yorkshire Police could have insisted Supt Ackerley remained in post to face the charges. They have not done so.

Jon Porter, director of North Yorkshire Police's human resources department and the civilian official with overall responsibility for training, resigned in the summer.

His role was also investigated during the police inquiry – carried out by North Yorkshire – but the CPS decided he would not face criminal charges.

Both men were suspended in April this year. Supt Ackerley, who is paid around £70,000 a year, will remain suspended on full pay until the end of the year when he will officially retire.

The audit report reveals a catalogue of shortcomings in the management of the lucrative contracts Supt Ackerley's wife was able to obtain from the force.

Although it refers to Mrs Ackerley's payments since 2001, the report focuses on arrangements since 2005, when Supt Ackerley set up a selection system for the employment of external training consultants.

The report adds: "Peta Ackerley has been called on regularly to undertake work, without proper procurement practices that would protect the Force from allegations of inappropriate influence being used."

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said: "Hopefully this episode brings to an end a period when North Yorkshire Police had a cavalier attitude to accountability for public money.

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