Police spend thousands on speaking clock

editorial image

WIGAN taxpayers’ money was spent on thousands of calls from police officers to the speaking clock, new figures reveal.

Greater Manchester Police also notched up a substantial bill for calls to directory enquiries since April 2010, amounting to more than £16,000.

The figures, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, detail that more than 35,000 calls in total were made to either 118 or 123 numbers up to October last year.

GMP declined to comment on the exact nature of the calls to the speaking clock but did explain that calls to 118 numbers were required to obtain contact details.

Chief Officer Lynne Potts, said: “Prior to widespread access to the internet and in common with organisations and the general public officers and staff had to use directory enquiries to obtain contact details.

“This practice is now extremely rare and the force only spent £595 on calls to this number in the 10-month period to October 31 last year.”

The number of calls to both services have fallen significantly in the last year after more than £8,000 was spent on calls to 118 numbers in the 2010/11 financial year. That figure dropped to £1,978 in 2011/12 and again to just £595 from April to October 2012.

Whereas calls to the speaking clock totalled £2,872 in 2010/11, £2,535 in 2011/12 and down to £442 for the 2012 period.

Despite the decrease in calls in recent months, the total cost since 2010 has attracted fierce criticism from the Tax Payers’ Alliance (TPA).

TPA political director Matthew Sinclair, said: “It beggars belief that GMP has racked up a bill for thousands just for calls to directory enquiries and the speaking clock.

“Taxpayers will be aghast that their cash has been spent like that when there is real pressure on budgets and there are plenty of other ways of checking phone numbers or the time.

“GMP - like any organisation funded by taxpayers - must ensure that money is spent carefully and not needlessly squandered.”