Police disposal of public assets and valuation of such assets

Status: IGNORED..!

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Lancashire Constabulary should normally have responded promptly and by 2nd January 2019

  • Dear Lancashire Constabulary,

    I refer to a FOI made the the PCC, Clive Grunshaw. 
    https://foi-request.com/use-of-public-money-for-donations

    I would like you to provide me with the regulations on how the Chief Constable or PCC can use PUBLIC assets for donations to charities, especially charities with potential for conflicts of interest.

    I refer to the following publication where Clive Grunshaw (or Lancashire police as Clive says) donated a police motorcycle of significant value to North West Blood Bikes. 
    https://nwbb-lancs.org/blog/post.php?s=2…

    I refer to potential conflicts of interest, as the charity is chaired by an ex Lancashire police officer and current magistrate. At the time believed to be a freemason.

    This conflict of interest is identified clearly in that the chair is an ex police officer so this begs the question,

    • Why this charity?
    • What was the process for deciding which charity?
    • What other charities were considered?

    The second conflict of interest is that the chairman is a magistrate and this could invoke significant BIAS in any criminal convictions by the magistrate.

    • Are police allowed to ‘donate’ assets to members of the judiciary?
    • What safeguards are in place to ensure no conflict exists?
    • Who overlooks potential conflicts and abuse of public assets?

    I also ask, why the motorcycle was valued at £1,500? even at today’s market, it could fetch as much as £4,000. The £1,500 valuation was made back in 2013 and it is estimated the motorcycle was worth closer to £7,000 at this time so a deficit of over £5,000 of public assets to a police run charity.

    • Who overlooks valuations to ensure they are not abused?
    • What process was used to ensure this valuation was correct?
    • Please provide bills of sale for this valuation/sale/donation?

    While this may be a worthwhile charity, my request is, who decides which charity is in receipt of disposals of such significant value?

    Suspicions will obviously be raised at the selection of charity so please detail why this charity was selected in the knowledge an ex-police officer/magistrate was the chair.

    I have suspicious that this may in fact be a fraudulent or illegal devaluing of public assets, followed by a ‘biased’ selection of charity. This was identified by the PCC as a donation by himself. This was the same year he was investigate for expenses fraud and maybe CPS should be notified?

    If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under your Section 16 obligations, as to how I can refine my request to be included in the scope of the Act. In any case, if you can identify ways that my request could be refined please provide further advice and assistance to indicate this.

    I look forward to your response within 20 working days, as stipulated by the Act.

    Yours faithfully,

    Paul Ponting

Deadline 2nd January 2019

  • Dear Information assurance unit,

    The Freedom of Information Act says:

    A public authority must comply with section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt.

    You have not replied, please can you do so as soon as possible.

    Yours sincerely,

    Paul Ponting

  • Dear Mr Ponting
    FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPLICATION REFERENCE NO: DPO/FOI/004298/18

    Thank you for your request for information received by Lancashire Constabulary on 02/12/2018.

    I refer to your request as above and in accordance with Section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information
    Act (FOIA) 2000 I can confirm some information is held relevant to your request. Under delegated powers the Head of Business Support was authorised to dispose of police equipment up to the value of £2000 by whatever means was believed to be most appropriate. An extract from the relevant section of the Delegated authority is set out below.

    LOST DAMAGED OBSOLETE AND SURPLUS ITEMS OF FURNITURE EQUIPMENT STOCKS AND STORES

    To write off furniture, equipment, stocks and stores found to be deficient, damaged or obsolete
    i)
    Up to a value of £2,000 per individual item delegated to Divisional Commander/Head of Business Support
    To dispose of any obsolete items of furniture, equipment stocks and stores as follows If the value of goods to be disposed of is estimated to be in excess of £2,000 the items should be disposed of publicly, by tender or auction as appropriate. Where the value of goods is below £2,000 disposal should be by whatever method is considered to be the most appropriate and financially advantageous to the PCC delegated to Divisional Commander/Head of Business Support.

    Within your request you have also asked a number of questions. These are not valid requests for information held under the FOIA.

    However, in accordance with our duty to assist I can advise that an approach was made by a representative of the Charity to the Director of Resources. The matter was referred to the Head of Business Services, who had delegated powers, as detailed above and considered the offer from the Charity, as a corporate entity, following a valuation of the motorcycle by the Business Services Fleet Manager.

    A copy of the email authorising approval to the donation is attached.

    Please accept our apologies for the delay in processing your request.

    If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request an internal review of our decision, you should write to the Information Assurance Manager, Information Compliance and Disclosure Section, Police Headquarters, Saunders Lane, Hutton, Preston PR4 5SB or alternatively send an email

    Details of
    the Constabulary’s Freedom of Information Complaint Procedures can be found attached to this
    email.  If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information
    Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the Information Commissioner’s Office cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by Lancashire Constabulary.

    The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe
    House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

    Yours sincerely
    Compliance Team
    Data Protection Office

  • Thank you for the reply.

    I note that you have confirmed that items valued at less that £2,000 can be disposed off. I am nut sure vehicles are covered by this category, hover, assuming they are, my query was quite specific and I remind you of it.

    I also ask, why the motorcycle was valued at £1,500? even at today’s market, it could fetch as much as £4,000. The £1,500 valuation was made back in 2013 and it is estimated the motorcycle was worth closer to £7,000 at this time so a deficit of over £5,000 of public assets to a police run charity.

    I am aware the motorcycle was valued at £1,500. It has therefore ‘more likely than not’ been intentionally valued at £1,500 to keep it below this £2,000 threshold so that it can be disposed of fraudulently.

    I have done some research and have estimated the motorcycle was in fact worth closer to £7,000..!

    Now this is an estimate, but is it wildly different to the £1,500 as estimated by the ‘fleet manager’ who I would believe would have been instructed this low valuation. I doubt any public servant in the position of a ‘fleet manager’ would make such a big mistake.

    What I would like clarifying is, the rationale for the valuation of £1,500 made back in 2013 which is less than what the bike would actually be worth now.

    Notwithstanding the above valuations, there is NO WAY the bike was worth less than £2,000 in 2013. This is ludicrous and a full investigation should be triggered by this FOI request.

    My FOI is for information that appears to relate to an intentional fraudulent transaction using public funds so I am asking for FULL disclosure.

    Yours sincerely,

    Paul Ponting

  • Dear FOI

    I sent a question on the 30th January, almost 4 months ago.  You have not replied.

    As you can see, I am trying to ascertain how a police motorcycle which is owned by tax payers, was devalued (fraudulently) to allow it to be disposed of, ironically, to an ex-Lancashire police officer and serving magistrate Paul Brooks.

    You have simply failed to respond. 

    This does look like you wont reply because you are aware it was a fraudulent dealing and this does not exempt you from responding.  I  await your response to this and my previous email.

    Yours sincerely,

    Paul Ponting