UK police force spent £16,000 of tax payers’ money calling the talking clock and directory enquiries in three years. It's the latest in a string of scandals over tax payer money being wasted as jobs are slashed in cash strapped Britain.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) made 35,000 calls checking time and contact details between 2010 and 2012, data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act showed.
However, GMP defended its actions: “Prior to widespread
access to the internet and in common with originations and the
general public officers and staff had to use directory enquiries to
obtain contact details,” Chief Officer Lynne Potts told the
Daily Mail. She did not comment on the exact nature of calls to the
Last year it was revealed that London’s Metropolitan Police
spent more than £35,000 (over $50,000) on calls to the speaking
The Tax Payers’ Alliance (TPA) said that it beggared belief that money was being wasted on calls when there is real pressure on police budgets. Over 24,000 jobs have gone as a result of police cuts with thousands of officers being made redundant.
“Taxpayers will be aghast that their cash has been spent like
that when there are plenty of other ways of checking phone numbers
or the time,” said Matthew Sinclair, political director of the
The latest allegation of waste by civil servants involves
relatively small sums of money it comes hot on the heels of
numerous scandals involving tax payer’s money, at a time when
voters are feeling the pinch on their pockets with ever greater
austerity, price rises and stagnant wages.
Last week it was revealed by Conservative MP Steve Barclay that
the National Health Service (NHS) spent £14.7 million ($22 million)
on silencing whistleblowers. This was done through gagging orders
written into staff contracts where they were paid ‘special
severance payouts’, which induce potential whistleblowers to sign
away their rights and not take their complaints any
But this is small change compared to the £6.4 billion ($9.6
billion) wasted on the NHS’ new centralized computer
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee issued a report
in August 2011 that found British Telecom was paid £9 million by
the NHS to install the same systems it usually charges £2 million
($3 million) for. Auditors also found that government
officials were spending ten times the market rate for
MPs in the Public Accounts Committee also described a now
shelved plan to create a network of regional fire stations as a
“complete failure”, which has cost the tax payer £469
million (up to $710 million).
The project was launched in 2004 but seven years later, eight of the purpose built centers were empty white elephants costing £4 million ($6 million) a month to maintain. The MPs found that a new IT system for the fire service “was simply never delivered” because government departments didn’t coordinate their work with the needs of local fire services.
But it is perhaps the Ministry of Defense (MoD), which has overseen the most scandalous waste of public resources in recent years.
16 of the MoD’s largest contracts are now more than 11 years
behind schedule and costs have shot up by almost half a billion by
the beginning of this year.
The £32 million ($48 million) Falcon communication system
designed for Afghanistan will not be ready until after the troops
leave, while £787 million ($1,190 million) has been blown plugging
the gap caused by delays to the Royal Air Forces (RAF’s) Future
Strategic Tanker Aircraft and the A400M transport plane, with
elderly VC10’s, some of them almost 50 years old, flying on until
the new tankers are ready.
Other areas in which the government has squandered taxpayers
money include half a million on renting fig trees to put outside
MPs offices, £4 million ($6 million) on advertising Britain on
British television and £450 million (circa $ 680 million) in aid to
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