Another NWP Initiative
You just couldn’t make it up
North Wales police paid burglar’s £45,000 phone bill
The criminal was given a contract phone by the force while on bail as part of a reintegration scheme
A police force paid a £45,000 bill run up by a burglar after it gave him a mobile phone to help him get back on the straight and narrow.
The phone was handed to the offender from Anglesey in north Wales while he was on bail as part of a scheme to reintegrate criminals into the community.
But he was given a contract sim rather than a pay-as-you-go and North Wales police was left with the huge bill.
Police launched a criminal investigation after receiving the bill and finding that three people may have used the phone. Two were arrested and interviewed but no charges were brought. The force did not say what the phone had been used for.
North Wales police said no disciplinary action had been taken against any member of staff and it had reviewed and tightened up its mobile phone policy.
Details released under a freedom of information request showed that the Orange mobile sim card was used for a number of months in 2014 and the bills, which totalled £44,500, were paid monthly.
The burglar was not given a smart phone but removed the sim card from the simple device and put it into one that he then used to stream video and music.
A police spokesperson said: “Establishing what websites were actually visited or data downloaded is no longer possible.”
In its FoI response, the force said it occasionally used “inexpensive pay-as-you-go mobile phones to maintain contact with vulnerable victims of crime and offenders to integrate them back into the community”.
The force said a phone allowed officials to encourage the individual to stay on track. North Wales police said it had not paid any other criminals’ phone bills. It said he was from the town of Llangefni but would not give further details about the offender.
Tracey Martin, the director of finance and resources, said: “North Wales police will occasionally use inexpensive pay-as-you-go mobile phones to maintain contact with vulnerable victims of crime and offenders to integrate them back into the community.
“This is done through our integrated offender management unit which works with offenders who are subject to court or prison licences and also with those who are not currently subject to probation supervision.
“A phone allows two-way communications between the offender and the support agencies to provide encouragement and to keep the individual on track for the benefit of the community as a whole.
“Unfortunately on this occasion a contract phone was mistakenly given and then misused. The situation was dealt with as soon as it came to light in 2014 and we have since improved our procedures to ensure that it can’t happen again.”