Belfast Telegraph

Belfast council probes claims staff stole equipment and sold it online

Jim Rodgers
Jim Rodgers
Brian Heading

By Claire Smyth

An investigation is under way into allegations that council workers stole electrical equipment from their employer over a number of years and sold it online.

Two Belfast City Council employees left their jobs earlier this month after the issue came to light.

At least two more council workers are believed to be subject to internal disciplinary proceedings in relation to the alleged theft, which is said to have happened over a period of several years.

The council is still investigating the allegations, however sources told the Belfast Telegraph that the value of the stolen equipment could run to tens of thousands of pounds.

The Belfast Telegraph asked the authority if the alleged theft was reported to police and if any of the goods that were reportedly stolen have been recovered.

We also asked for a description of the items that were taken and for details on any council action on the matter.

A council spokesman said: "Belfast City Council does not comment on individual employment matters."

He declined to comment further.

A PSNI spokeswoman said she could not find any reports of the incident on their system.

Colette Kane, a director of audit at the Northern Ireland Audit Office with responsibility for local government, told the Belfast Telegraph: "We have discussed this matter with the council and can confirm that investigations are ongoing.

"Council will be writing to the Local Government Auditor, in line with an agreed arrangement, to advise her of the position regarding the investigation."

SDLP councillor Brian Heading sits on the council's strategic policy and resources committee, which is responsible for oversight of the use of resources and ensuring value for money for ratepayers.

He said: "This is worrying if true, however I think it's best to wait for the outcome of the council's investigation."

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said: "As the longest-serving councillor on Belfast City Council, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to make any comment.

"I don't feel it would be right or proper for me to say anything.

"Obviously there are internal matters within the council which have to be dealt with and appropriately it should be kept within the council and not go out of the council until an investigation is complete."

Trade unions Unison, GMB and Unite said the men who left their positions were not members of their organisations.

Nipsa said it was not in a position to comment.

The Northern Ireland Local Government Association, the representative body for local councils, said: "Nilga does not offer comment on issues involving individual councils.

"This matter will be investigated in line with council procedures and Nilga does not wish (by offering comment) to jeopardise any investigation by council or PSNI."

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