Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PS4.6m Police Inquiry Ends with No Criminal Charges

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PS4.6m Police Inquiry Ends with No Criminal Charges

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Barley Crime Reporter

OPERATION Sacristy - the PS4.6m investigation into alleged corruption and misconduct at Cleveland Police - has ended with no criminal charges.

It lasted nearly four years and cast a dark cloud over Cleveland Police - but questions remain over the length and cost of the probe, the tactics used and the ultimately unsuccessful outcome.

Sacristy was a high-profile investigation, which began in 2010, into allegations of corruption and misconduct within Cleveland Police and Cleveland Police Authority.

Among those arrested were former Chief Constable Sean Price and his deputy Derek Bonnard. In total nine people had been on bail waiting to hear if they were to be charged. The Crown Prosecution Service has now said there was insufficient evidence to charge them.

And yesterday, in front of the country's media, current Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer and director general of the National Crime Agency Keith Bristow defended the inquiry. They said it was "justified" as it led to the sacking of Mr Price and Mr Bonnard after they were found guilty of gross misconduct.

But politicians and those at the centre of the investigation were critical of the handling of the case.

Yesterday it emerged that fomer Cleveland Police detective chief inspector Mark Braithwaite was the one who first raised concerns.

Conservative Stockton South MP James Wharton said: "There are serious outstanding questions about the scale and cost of Sacristy given that no charges are being brought against Sean Price.

"He has lost his job, been subject to very difficult public examination and debate and must be relieved to not now face prosecution.

He said: "If this was ultimately nothing more than a misconduct investigation into him then the cost and scale are very difficult to justify."

Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald said: "It has cost far too much. There must be a better way of carrying out these types of investigations in a more efficient and cost effective way. But there are things that can be taken out of this investigation and I think it is important now that the force moves forward. …

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