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Police Digital Service employees arrested on suspicion of fraud, bribery and misconduct

The company responsible for overseeing the development and delivery of the National Police Digital Strategy has confirmed that two of its employees have been arrested on suspicion of fraud, bribery and misconduct in public office.

The individuals in question have been arrested, interviewed and bailed by the City of London Police, and suspended from working for the Police Digital Service (PDS) while the criminal investigation into their alleged activities continues.

In a statement to Computer Weekly, detective superintendent James Halkett from the City of London Police said: “The City of London Police are leading a criminal investigation into allegations made against two individuals employed by the Police Digital Service. The suspects have been arrested for fraud, bribery and misconduct in public office.”

Details of the investigation first came to light on Tuesday 2 July, following the publication of a brief statement on the UK Police Major Incident Reporting Site, stating that the City of London Police had launched an investigation – dubbed Operation Albaston – into the alleged criminal conduct of a “small number of staff” working for PDS.

In a separate statement to Computer Weekly, PDS said the suspects would be subject to an employee misconduct review, undertaken by an independent HR consultancy: “Given the seriousness of the issues raised, a thorough review of PDS will be undertaken. The company’s work remains unaffected [and] we are unable to comment further at this stage.”

PDS operates as a private company with no shareholders, and is funded by the Home Office and the policing sector.

It is responsible for coordinating the roll-out and development of digital services to UK police forces, and oversees the delivery of the five-pronged National Policing Digital Strategy.

Its aims include equipping police officers and related staff with the digital tools needed to “focus on critical and value-adding activities”, sharing data and making use of tools to ensure the public’s safety, and providing citizens with “seamless digitally enabled experiences” when engaging with the police.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, the organisation has been instrumental in encouraging and enabling police forces across the UK to adopt a cloud-first mentality, as part of a nationally coordinated migration of policing data and applications to the cloud.

According to the most recent set of PDS accounts, filed with Companies House in December 2023 and covering the 12 months to 31 March 2023, the company turned a profit after tax of £2.4m and reported turnover of £73m during this period.

During the previous financial year, the company reported a profit of £2.7m after tax and turnover of £54m.

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