1,100 officers broke housing benefit rules

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 June, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 June, 1998, 12:00am

More than 1,100 police and fire services officers have received double housing benefits in breach of rules, according to internal investigations.

The two forces launched inquiries after the Director of Audit's 1996 report found large numbers of disciplinary officers and their spouses were receiving double housing benefits.

The results and action taken after the investigations were recorded in a report of the Public Accounts Committee.

The police have finished checking all 1,720 cases identified. In 979, they found that either the officers or their spouses were recipients of public housing benefits.

Under civil service regulations, civil servants cannot have government quarters if they or their spouses are entitled to public housing.

The Fire Services Department has submitted 2,700 names to the Housing Department for checking.

'Of 256 names appearing in the Housing Department's database, 112 were identified as receiving public housing benefits,' the report said.

All officers or spouses of the established cases had either relinquished their rights to public housing or returned their quarters.

Most of the officers of the two forces were found to have unknowingly breached the rules while only five of the police cases were suggested as having been deliberate. The report said disciplinary action would be taken.

The report said the Housing Department would carry out annual checks on public housing benefits being received by departmental quarters occupants.

The police are investigating one case which involves two divorced officers who allegedly received double housing benefits.

The force's spokesman declined to say whether the officers had forged their divorce papers.

Under the rule, an officer and his spouse, whether separated or not, cannot receive more than one housing benefit.