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Ties, clocks and hurled cash: Gifts accepted to avoid offence


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Presents from overseas governments, agencies as well as random members of the public benefit charities, register shows.

The PC's hands were tied when it came to keeping the gift set. (Not the actual ties offered).

The PC's hands were tied when it came to keeping the gift set. (Not the actual ties offered).

A set of five ties, a clock and £140 in cash thrown at officers are among the gifts given to personnel which have ended up going to worthy causes in recent months.

The Metropolitan Police’s gifts and hospitality register details the items given to officers – who are expected to decline offers which could compromise their impartiality.

However, they should accept them if they think it will cause offence not to do so.

In June, foreign governments or their agencies offered cash to royalty and specialist protection officers four times, the register states. On three occasions the money ended up with the Met Commissioner’s charitable fund, while another time the money was offered in an envelope - and refused.

A set of five ties and four pens in a gift set was offered to a PC from an overseas government the same month. The constable was allowed to keep the pens but had to donate the ties to charity.

Similarly, in April, a specialist counter-terrorism PC was given a bottle of Prosecco, a bottle of white wine and a box of chocolates from a foreign embassy. The officer was permitted to keep the chocolates but not the alcohol.

Police charities benefitted to the sum of £140 after an incident in May where an “anonymous male” threw the cash at two parliamentary and diplomatic protection officers.

Policing academic Tim Brain said: “Gifts and hospitality registers have been around in one form or another for a long time but became more formal after an HMIC report drew attention to the issue and have been published proactively since after the Freedom of Information Act made it possible for people to ask for them anyway.

“When deciding if things can be kept by officers one of the questions is whether it enables anyone to have any leverage, and there is also the value. In instances where alcohol and chocolates were given together it may be that the alcohol is of relatively high value and the chocolates are low value.

“But when you just see them written down as a couple of lines in a register they don’t really give you the full context of why something was accepted or something wasn’t accepted.”

Other gifts accepted and kept by officers themselves in the period include Nando’s sauces and condiments, a pouch of coffee and a hand-crafted wooden bowl.

A Met Police spokesman said: “The default position is to decline all offers of gifts or hospitality.

“The policy is relevant to all ranks and units within the [Met] and includes all officers, staff and those under the direction and control of the commissioner must not accept gifts, hospitality or other benefits or services that would place them, or be perceived to place them, under an obligation or compromise their judgement and integrity.

“Offers of gifts and hospitality must therefore, be declined with an explanation of this policy. The only exception to this is where it can clearly be justified that to refuse would cause serious offence or damage working relations.”

She added that all offers must be considered on their own merits.

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