Four Lancashire Constabulary officers have been sacked for organising a car-buying scam.
A high-ranking Detective Chief Inspector, a Detective Inspector, a Detective Sergeant and a Detective Constable, all from a specialist covert unit based at the Hutton headquarters, have been dismissed after being found guilty of gross misconduct.
A further officer from the same department also faced the hearing, but the case against them was not proven.
Lancashire Constabulary said the four officers, some of whom have decades of experience, had “brought discredit to the force” and failed to display vital characteristics needed by police officers.
The scam involved the unauthorised purchase of unmarked police cars for use in covert operations.
In a bid to stop the cars being identified by criminals, they are changed frequently and sold by the force to the public at heavily-reduced prices, most cars aged around six to 12 months.
The officers in this investigation had been found to have ordered particular cars with particular specifications for police work they actually wanted for themselves, knowing the cars would soon be available to buy personally at a reduced cost.
The matters were brought to the constabulary’s attention in October 2012 last year and an investigation was immediately launched. The five officers were suspended from duty in March.
A misconduct hearing came to a conclusion last week, and the officers were dismissed.
A police spokesman said: “The case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and a full and thorough investigation continued under their supervision which resulted in the officers being charged with gross misconduct, as we were clear that in our view there was a case to answer.
“The misconduct hearing panel was made up of a Chief Officer and Chief Supt from separate forces and a lay member. They have listened to the facts of the case over nine days and we welcome the decisions they have reached.
“Honesty and integrity are two of the most important characteristics of a police officer and these officers have clearly failed to display those qualities, as well as failing to act with due diligence. The impact of their actions has brought discredit to the force.
“We will ensure that any recommendations and lessons from this case are reflected on and we will work with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the
Police Federation to prevent further occurrences of this nature.
“We remain resolute in our commitment to deal with anyone in the organisation who does not keep to the high standards expected of them and which the vast majority of our staff adhere to on a daily basis.”
The officers will not face criminal charges after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute.