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Police Scotland denies “operating a travel agency”

It follows an article in the 1919 magazine which outlines that the force had paid for tickets for an ACC’s personal trip before later being reimbursed.

ACC Gary Ritchie attended the Global Policing Exchange in the UAE in March on behalf of Police Scotland. The force said he was then allowed a period of extended leave “in exceptional circumstances” for which he travelled straight from Dubai to Australia.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “By prior agreement, Police Scotland booked all flights involved and Mr Ritchie reimbursed the Service for his personal travel to and from Australia.”

An article published this week in the 1919 magazine which is backed by the Scottish Police Federation said that following an FOI request, it was revealed that the return flight to Australia cost £3,032. 1919 has said that ACC Ritchie returned £2,515.30 to cover the personal elements of his fare.

A statement given by Chair of the Scottish Police Federation, David Hamilton, has since been called “inaccurate and misleading” by the force.

David Hamilton had told the magazine: “Whilst I'm sure most officers will accept that this was a genuine oversight, rectified by 1919’s enquiry, they will be astonished to learn that Police Scotland has been operating a travel agency for senior officers.

“International travel is a necessity for an organisation with the size, scale and influence of Police Scotland, but practices like these are reputationally and ethically damaging.”

 A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Where officers and staff travel as part of their duties, including investigations, operational matters and secondments, Police Scotland either meets those costs or they are paid for by third parties.

“An officer recently undertook a secondment with the Australian Federal Police and has now returned to Police Scotland.

“Separately, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie attended the Global Policing Exchange in the United Arab Emirates in March on behalf of Police Scotland, where he was a contributing presenter.

“ACC Ritchie was allowed a period of extended leave in exceptional circumstances which began immediately following these duties and he made his way directly from the UAE to Australia.

“By prior agreement, Police Scotland booked all flights involved and Mr Ritchie reimbursed the Service for his personal travel to and from Australia.

“Working with international partners strengthens our ability to provide the best possible policing, for the public and our own people, as well as through key partners across Scotland.

“Our values of integrity, fairness, respect and enabling human rights; our commitment to policing by consent; and our legal duty to improve the safety and wellbeing of people and communities lie at the heart of our identity.

“These principles and approach are vital in all we do and are worth sharing with the world." 

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