Backlash over Met’s £1million inquiry as crime soars: Scotland Yard probe into No. 10 partygate scandal could cost staggering amount
- It has emerged that the Partygate investigation is set to cost more than £1million
- The ‘Celebrity Squad’ has been tasked with investigating eight parties in a probe
- Critics said it will take up resources as the force battles epidemic in violent crime
- Despite the force having a record 33,076 officers, detection rates remain woeful
Scotland Yard faced a furious backlash yesterday as it emerged that the Partygate investigation is set to cost more than £1million – at a time of rocketing crime rates.
Critics warned that the criminal inquiry into parties in Downing Street and Whitehall will swallow up valuable resources just as the force is battling an epidemic in violent and sexual offences.
The so-called ‘Celebrity Squad’ has been tasked with investigating eight parties in a wide-ranging probe, which policing experts have estimated could cost in excess of £1million and take at least six months.
Eight officers in the Special Enquiry Team, led by Commander Catherine Roper, have been assigned to the inquiry, with more officers and staff available if needed, the Daily Mail understands.
She will report her findings to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors.
Yesterday, the day after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick’s bombshell announcement of the investigation, MPs and former officers questioned the decision to divert officer time and resources when the force’s overall detection rates have plummeted by almost a quarter in the last year alone.
Eight officers in the Special Enquiry Team, led by Commander Catherine Roper (pictured), have been assigned to the Partygate inquiry, the Daily Mail understands
Dame Cressida refused to set any limits or timescale for the inquiry, promising the London Assembly: ‘We will of course be going where the evidence takes us.’
But Tory Assembly member Susan Hall, who chaired the meeting, said it was a ‘matter of regret’ that the probe was being prioritised after the capital saw its worst year for teenage killings last year as well as soaring rates of violent and sexual offences.
She said: ‘The Met detection rate is absolutely appalling. The number of teenage homicides is absolutely horrific. I understand the Commissioner was put in an impossible position and she felt that this was a matter of public confidence for the force.
‘I do, however, deeply regret that significant resources are going to be put into this instead of solving rapes and violent offences.’
She added: ‘It seems absolutely ridiculous to be in this situation where there is a prospect of war with Russia over Ukraine.’
Last year in London, 30 teenagers were killed, the worst death toll since the Second World War.
Despite the force having a record 33,076 officers – the highest number in a decade – detection rates remain woeful with 22 per cent less crimes solved in 2021 than in 2020.
Among other disturbing figures, sexual offences in the capital rose by 26 per cent and reported rapes increased by 17 per cent in 2021 compared with the previous year.
Yet in the same period the number of sex crimes being solved dropped by 8 per cent. Despite a taskforce being set up to tackle violence, offences continued to creep up by 6 per cent in 2021, while detections have dropped 20 per cent.
Similarly, the number of burglaries solved has fallen by a quarter, robbery detections are down by 21 per cent and there has been a 27 per cent drop in vehicle theft cases being cracked.
Yesterday former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The big thing to focus on is the Met and gang violence in London, which is a big issue right now.
‘There are concerns about stretched resources and problems with property crime. You very rarely get a serious response from them on things like car crime.
Critics warned the criminal inquiry into parties in Downing Street and Whitehall will swallow up valuable resources just as the force is battling an epidemic in violent and sexual offences
‘In my area and many others in London, there are deep concerns about the efficiency of the police in getting to the scene of the crime when property is involved and then thereafter resolving any of it.
‘There has been a real surge in gang-led violence in London, it’s now becoming a byword.
‘All of this is stretching the police and should be an absolute priority – to catch criminals and resolve crimes. I was surprised at the decision to investigate this issue when there are many, many crimes that are going uninvestigated.’
Tory MP Mark Jenkinson said: ‘It’s an outrage. In Labour’s London, knife crime is through the roof and women don’t feel safe on the streets.
‘And here we have ‘Her Majesty’s loyal opposition’ cheering this colossal waste to the rafters.’
Conservative MP Crispin Blunt also weighed in, saying: ‘Not only is it a strange policing priority, but it’s part of a national picture where we no longer have this issue remotely in the right perspective and context.
‘Of course this money – and the efforts of the public servants who are on the receiving end of this – could be much better spent.’
Dai Davies, former chief superintendent and head of royalty protection at the Met, predicted that the probe could take longer than six months and cost in excess of £1million.
He said: ‘We are talking about fixed penalty notices, something you get for parking on a double yellow line. How much is this really going to cost taxpayers to investigate? Although it is only a small team, costs soon rack up.
‘We are looking at at least six months for a preliminary report and I anticipate it will cost over £1million. It is a nonsense – we are talking about a few minions, civil servants getting a penalty. That is the likely outcome.’
Chequered record of the Celebrity Squad cops
By Rebecca Camber Crime and Security Editor for the Daily Mail
The ‘Celebrity Squad’ was set up to investigate allegations against the rich, powerful and famous. Here we examine the team’s chequered record.
Jeffrey Archer was found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice for lying during a 1987 libel case he brought over allegations that he had paid a prostitute for sex. In 2001, the author and former Tory politician was jailed for four years.
Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s former butler was accused of stealing hundreds of her possessions, but the trial collapsed in 2002 after it emerged that he told the Queen the items had been held for safe-keeping.
Police were criticised at the Old Bailey trial for failing to establish this. The officers were later cleared of wrongdoing despite the botched case and subsequent failed trial of another former royal butler costing £2million.
Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s former butler (both pictured), was accused of stealing hundreds of her possessions, but the trial collapsed in 2002 after it emerged he told the Queen the items had been held for safe-keeping
Blue Peter star
John Leslie was cleared of two charges of sexual assault in 2003 after the prosecution offered no evidence against the ex-Blue Peter presenter. Taxpayers faced an estimated £1million bill for the case.
Charles Ingram, the major who cheated to win the jackpot on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was convicted in 2003. But taxpayers faced an estimated £8million bill to cover the police inquiry and his successive appeals.
Kate Moss faced a probe in 2006 costing an estimated £250,000 after pictures emerged of her allegedly snorting cocaine.
The CPS decided there was no realistic prospect of conviction as it couldn’t be proved what the substance was.
Cash for honours
Police were called in to probe claims that four businessmen who made loans to Labour were nominated by Tony Blair for peerages. The then-PM was questioned three times as a witness.
In July 2007, after a 16-month inquiry, the police announced no one would be charged.
The 2009 expenses scandal saw five MPs and two peers jailed as a result of an investigation into false expenses claims.
Labour veteran and male escorts
Former Labour MP Keith Vaz came under investigation over claims he offered to buy cocaine for two male escorts in 2016. The inquiry was closed without charges being brought.
FORMER Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney was interviewed under caution by police over allegations that she broke official spending limits during a 2016 by-election.
But the CPS decided there was no evidence to show the breach was deliberate and police closed the case.
The Leave.EU campaign was referred to police on suspicion of breaking electoral law over its spending in 2019.
The celebrity squad investigators concluded there was insufficient evidence to justify further investigation of the group, set up by the insurance businessman Arron Banks, despite ‘technical breaches of electoral law’.
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