Metropolitan Police Sikh Association inquiry concluded
The inquiry into allegations made against former committee members of the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association (MPSA) has concluded that there is no criminal or misconduct case to consider.
The investigation began in October 2007 and was carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service's Directorate of Professional Services under the management and control of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Metropolitan Police Service commissioned an independent financial audit.
IPCC Commissioner Nicola Williams said: " While no criminal or misconduct charges will be brought in this case, the inquiry found that: financial reporting and accounting were weak; ticket sales for social events inconsistently recorded and lack of information kept about sales or monies banked; and funds raised for charity were not passed to the organisations concerned."
The inquiry found no evidence that funds collected for - and not paid to charity - were misappropriated. It also found that these funds had not been used to balance the books inappropriately. In 2006 no payments were made, this includes cheques that were addressed to the charity. It is not clear why this was not done, however this appears indicative of a lack of professional capability for dealing with these accounting procedures and a lack of effective oversight in this system.
The allegations of unspecified favours gained through the provision of a catering contract for social events are unsubstantiated. Despite the lack of an invoice for catering services, the £6,000 payment does match the payments required for catering services supplied. The lack of this invoice is not a criminal or misconduct matter. It is further evidence of poor governance and accounting systems within the association.
There is no evidence of misuse of mobile phones supplied for the association's business and documentation examined by the investigation showed the justification for a trip to New York.
The analysis of the accounts was highly critical of the accounting processes used by the MPSA to compile and reconcile their accounts. The association's governance of its accounting process was shown as weak. The documents provided to the independent accountants were as complete as those held by the investigation. There were no ledgers showing the income and expenditure of the association. The accountants identified that a single accounting process should be used consistently in the preparation of financial accounts.
It is unclear what financial training, if any, may have been provided to those with responsibility for financial matters. Given these circumstances the investigation concludes that there has been a failure to record the financial transactions of the association. However, the evidence does not substantiate criminal or misconduct charges.
IPCC Commissioner Nicola Williams has recommended that:
No criminal or misconduct charges will be brought in this case.
Attempts should be made to resolve the differences between the groups within the MPSA. It is suggested that mediation be used, utilising a prominent figure from the Sikh community who is respected by both sides. (Nicola Williams has had a meeting with this individual, who is willing to carry it out.)
It is proposed by the accountants that future appointments to any role with financial responsibility within the association should be role specific emphasising the need for previous financial experience.
A review of all MPS staff association treasurers should be completed and their financial experience assessed. New and incumbent staff association treasurers should be provided with the relevant financial training to allow the proper completion of accounts using the cash accounting system.
Funds collected from members during association events in 2005 and 2006 for charity should be paid immediately.
This investigation has raised a number of concerns regarding the running and oversight of associations within the MPS. The investigation has highlighted the need to balance the independence of associations and an awareness that association members represent the MPS to communities and therefore can provide a positive or negative image of the organisation. The following points are considered for implementation.
A forum should be established where treasurers of the associations can exchange best practice and ensure uniformity in financial record keeping.
The management of accounts has been a central feature of this inquiry. The constitutions of the associations clearly state that there should be an audit of accounts annually. This was not completed in 2005 or 2006 by the MPSA. Associations should be required to provide evidence of this audit to a central point. This will provide an oversight of levels of compliance by the associations and early warning of problems within the associations.
As the role of treasurer is key to the financial rigour of the association, all treasurers should be offered basic training in the cash accounting method. Records of this training should be kept centrally.
Nicola Williams said: "Associations such as the MPSA can play an important role in the police service, both as a representative forum and also socially. They have the potential to benefit their members and the service greatly but they must be well run. I would urge all associations to consider the recommendations in the Directorate of Professional Standards' report very carefully."
Notes for editors
The IPCC has overall responsibility for the police complaints system. Since April 2006 it has taken on responsibility for similar, serious complaints against HM Revenue and Customs and the Serious Organised Crime Agency in England and Wales. The IPCC's jurisdiction was extended in 2008 to cover UK Border Agency staff exercising police-like powers.
The IPCC has the task of increasing public confidence in the complaint systems and aims to make investigations more open, timely, proportionate and fair.
The 15 Commissioners who run the IPCC guarantee its independence and by law can never have served as police officers. No Commissioner has worked for HM Revenue and Customs. They are supported by more than 100 independent IPCC investigators plus casework managers and other specialists.
Since April 1 2004 the IPCC has used its powers to begin 225 independent and 619 managed investigations into the most serious complaints against the police and other agencies. It has set new standards for police forces to improve the way the public's complaints are handled. The Commission also handles appeals by the public about the way their complaint was dealt with by the local force.
The IPCC is committed to getting closer to the communities it serves. Its Commissioners and staff are based in IPCC regional offices in Cardiff, Coalville, London and Sale plus a sub office in Wakefield.
The IPCC web site is constantly updated at www.ipcc.gov.uk or members of the public can contact the IPCC on 08453 002 002.
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