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Police should not be engaged in commercial activity

It has now emerged in response to a freedom of information request that police forces have been paid millions of pounds in return for passing information about road accident victims to companies such as claims managers and lawyers.

“Three forces — Fife, Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police — have admitted giving the contact details of more than 16,000 people to third parties. It is believed the practice is adopted by other forces, although they declined to provide details to LV.  The Met admitted it had been paid more than £5million since 2009; Hampshire has received £480,000 since 2010, while Fife has been paid £194,000, a freedom of information request by LV Insurance found.”

It is yet another indication of how far the UK police have become separated from the civic-mindedness that should characterize the force.  Some of those whose information was passed on will have received the irritating cold calls and badgering that claims companies use to drum up business.

It emerged recently that some police officers were accepting money from journalists and paparazzi in return for information about celebrities and people involved in high profile cases.  It is quite wrong that police should pass on information to outsiders, and even more wrong that they should be paid for doing so.  Former Home Secretary Jack Straw has described the practice as “scandalous,” and this is one occasion on which I find myself in agreement with him.  Clearly, action must be taken to stop it.

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