£48K investigation into Planning Department is ‘very cheap’ – Deputy

Royal Square, States Building. States members going into the States Chamber. Deputy Mike Higgins Picture: ROB CURRIE

Deputy Mike Higgins said the inquiry, which is expected to conclude within the coming weeks and has used around 760 hours of officer and police staff time, had not cost as much as other large-scale investigations previously carried out by the government. However, he expressed his disappointment at how long it had taken to carry out.

‘I think it is very cheap for an investigation in terms of what they are looking into. Other investigations of this nature have cost a lot more. From what I understand, Norfolk absorbed a lot of the cost themselves. Jersey’s costs seem to be things like travel and accommodation and not for the 700-odd hours of investigation that they have put into the case. I understand they were in the Island a few weeks ago and interviewed two people under caution and that a lawyer in the UK is now going through all the evidence,’ he said.

‘I am disappointed that it took so long as it has been going on for about three and a half years so far. I know there was Covid but that is still an awfully long time. The officers overseeing the investigation are from the serious crimes unit in Norfolk so they are dealing with other cases as well, including murders. They are very experienced detectives who are normally dealing with major crimes.

‘If there is evidence [that there has been wrongdoing], then there needs to be prosecutions and people brought to court.’

The current £48,433.77 cost was revealed as part of a response to a freedom of information request. The response said the three largest areas of expenditure were payroll at £19,841.35, Jersey hotel accommodation at £11,592.94 and air travel at £7,202.90. The response added that officers and police staff had so far spent just shy of 764 hours investigating the case at an average cost of £24.60 an hour.

Other large-scale investigations carried out in Jersey include the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry which cost £23 million. In 2017, Operation Belfong was launched by the Police Service of Northern Ireland which was brought in to investigate complaints made against the States of Jersey Police. The latter cost £31,000.

A Home Affairs spokesperson said: ‘The minister is content that this investigation is being carried out to a high standard and he is eager to receive the results. Investigations by external forces are rare but necessary in some circumstances.’​

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