Those leading the investigation need to recognise that the reputation of the police in the UK is at the present quite low. They also need to avoid falling into the trap of not being seen to be doing the right thing or providing an easy exit for those implicated.
However, if it is subsequently established that there has been procurement bribery, fraud and corruption, it will be most unlikely that it will be isolated to just vehicle contracts. The investigation will need to review:
- The procurement governance structure;
- Which other areas of spend the culprits have been involved with and how vulnerable those areas were to abuse;
- Which other public sector organisations have been supplied by the supplier/s involved - it is unlikely that the supplier only found one area of vulnerability;
- Consider the history of dealing with the supplier/s involved and how long the abuse has been going on;
- Which other police forces, and indeed public sector organisations, may have been following the same 'failed' preventative systems;
There also needs to be a due diligence of the procurement processes to establish vulnerability to procurement fraud, bribery and corruption. The Bribery Act requires organisations to put in place processes to prevent bribery anyway.
But if it is subsequently proved that contracts have been wrongly awarded as a result of corruption other relevant issues may arise. For example,
- Assuming the contracts were awarded through the Public Contracts Regulations, surely there must have been a breach of those laws?
- What about the suppliers who would have been awarded the contracts had there not been corruption? Would those potential suppliers not be entitled to compensation for loss of profits? That would open a major can of worms as all those award evaluations would potentially be exposed to scrutiny and who knows how robust they would have been.
What will the next instalment be?