Sunday, August 9, 2009

You Couldn't Make It Up!

Just finished going through the edits of Nightingale, which will be published in January next year. All good, though Hodder still can't decide on a title. They've yet to improve on just Nightingale, so we'll see what else they can come up with.

I'm really keen to see what Hodder does for a cover. I bet it will involve a single figure walking away, which is a theme I see in lots of covers these days. The last time I did a book tour something like a third of the books in the Top 20 fiction list had a single (male) figure on the front, walking away. It's become a cliche so I hope I get something better for Nightingale!

Have almost got to 140,000 words on the new Dan Shepherd book, which will be published next summer. That's much longer than I thought it was going to be, but it's all good stuff! There are three seperate plot threads which is why it's so long and with hindsight I think two would have been enough!

The theme of Dark Justice is police vigilantes and I touch on corruption, so I was fasinated to read this today. An amnesty for Scotland Yard cops who have been misusing their corporate credit cards. Seems the cops are to busy to do a full investigation so pretty much everyone involved has been let off! I just shake my head in amazement....

Anyway, here's the story...

Scotland Yard chiefs have agreed a secret amnesty for more than 1,000 officers and staff who misused corporate credit cards, it has been revealed.

An internal audit discovered 1,183 Metropolitan Police employees broke rules governing the use of American Express charge cards.

Senior officers were so overwhelmed by the number of cases they decided the card holders would not be punished - deciding instead that the staff, the vast majority of whom worked in counter terrorism and other specialist crime inquiries, would be given "training and guidance".

More than 300 people were initially referred to anti-corruption detectives when evidence emerged their claims were potentially fraudulent.

Of these cases, 50 were passed to independent investigators. Three officers have since been convicted of criminal offences and two more await trial.

Jenny Jones, of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said training and guidance is "not enough" and some disciplinary action should be taken. She said: "I find it unacceptable that the police have just let these officers go with guidance. They must have known what they were doing was wrong."

Members of the MPA, the force watchdog, have been told privately how an initial sift of accounts exposed the scale of the problem.

Internal auditors decided 1,183 people who used a card, but did not break the law, should be put to one side and labelled "category B". These cases included those who purchased personal items and later repaid the money or bought equipment that should have been purchased by other means.

Meanwhile, claims found to be "potentially unacceptable", including cases of suspected fraud, were labelled "category A" and passed to anti-corruption detectives. Inquiries into abuse of the credit card system by officers are expected to continue until next March, two and a half years after they first began.

A total of 3,533 officers and staff were issued with the cards and at one point £3.7 million of public money was unaccounted for. The majority of this money has been paid back, but legal action is expected against two officers who owe £82,000 and £1,100.


Mike CJ said...

Hi Stephen. I'm a new fan having been given (sorry!) Hard Landing by a friend. I will make it up to you by buying all your other books one by one.

I like your writing style, and particularly enjoyed your site and blog, as I am a professional blogger!

It's time you were on Twitter, when you get there come and say hello @mikecj

Anonymous said...

High Stephen,
Great blog as ever. Wasting public money is a way of life for British civil servants in all their different guises. To cap it all they get golden indexed linked pension to disappear into an enviable sunset.
More importantly, I shall in the next couple of months be staying at the Swissotel, Bangkok, where David Carradine came to his sticky end. Do you think I should stay in the actual room where David died. Then I can write a travel article on the lines of 'my holiday in the room where David Carradine commited his fatal mistake'!

James Lee said...

Hi Stephen,
Just a note re the new book. I am a former met Detective and covert operative. Having been under much scrutiny in my profession, and subject of serious investigation for corruption, I would be very interested in reading the new book.
I wonder how close to the truth it will be!!
I'll let you know.

Stephen Leather said...

Thanks, James. It should be on the shelves in June!