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'Fraud' claims over police fines are misleading

I WISH to put on record concerns with your article 'Police investigated over suspected fraud after £5.4m in fines vanishes into thin air' (News, October 10).

While most coverage of the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) report into the collection of fines was accurate, some did not accurately reflect the content of the report: it did not uncover, or expose, police fraud.

There is no evidence of a fraud racket. We identified irregularities involving one member of staff, which we are investigating. We have asked for evidence, or concerns, of any malpractice to be passed on and we will robustly investigate.

The NIAO report concluded that "the current system provides insufficient evidence to substantiate that material fraud has not occurred in the collection of cash on outstanding warrants". This is fundamentally different from finding positive evidence of fraud or theft.

We agree with NIAO that the system is unfit for purpose. We have been saying the same for years and are actively working to change the system. The PSNI has no desire to be handling thousands of cash transactions every year – not because we don't trust our people, but because we are in the business of public protection and safety, not fine collection.

The PSNI has clear and auditable systems in place and we will be reviewing these in light of the NIAO comments.

CHRIS NOBLE

Chief Superintendent, Head of service improvement department, PSNI

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