Published: 09:00, 21 May 2010
by Chris Hunter
Former Chief Constable Mike Fuller was chauffeur-driven to work from his home outside the county throughout his time as head of the force, we can reveal on the day his successor is announced.
Kent Police Authority confirmed the outgoing Chief Constable – based at Kent Police headquarters in Maidstone – was “permitted an official car and driver to and from his home address and work” since taking up the top role in 2004.
Mr Fuller says the Police Authority made substantial savings by paying for a car and driver instead of relocation expenses and he used his time in the car to work.
The details were released following a request under the Freedom Information Act, but did not include information on how much was spent on the travel arrangement.
The police authority could not confirm the distance between Mr Fuller’s home and workplace, citing an exemption under Section 40 of the act – which relates to personal information.
However it is believed his journey involved a 96-mile round trip.
Under details given to the Kent Messenger, the authority confirmed that previously three drivers were assigned to the Chief Officer Team, which consists of the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constables.
But the use of a car and driver between the workplace and home was specific to Mr Fuller, who is believed to have earned £140,000 a year in a package that also include secure computer equipment and a phone at his home.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the revelations were astonishing and that Kent residents wanted their council tax to go towards crime-fighting, not “ferrying around higher ranking officers".
“As Chief Constable of Kent police Mr Fuller should have made his own way to and from work,” he said.
“He was already receiving a generous salary and is in line for a healthy pension.
"It’s astonishing that taxpayers were expected to fund what was essentially his daily commute, in a chauffeur-driven vehicle.
"Even without the economic crisis, the idea of a Chief Constable having two or three drivers at his disposal will outrage members of the public.”
Kent Police Authority says that under plans for 2010/2011 it has reduced the number of drivers and cars by one; citing the “current economic climate” as the reason for the cut.
Mr Fuller has now taken up the role of Chief Inspector with the Crown Prosecution Service and his replacement was due to be announced today.
The police authority said the previous contractual agreement was in place to “maximise the Chief Constable’s availability to undertake Kent Police work,” and it will agree the detail of the new Chief Constable’s contract once the results of the recruitment process are known.
The two remaining drivers are both police officers, whose salary band is £22,000 - £35,000.
Kent Police Authority has written to the Information Commissioners Office to seek clarification on the Kent Messenger’s question on the distance between Mike Fuller’s home and Kent Police Headquarters.
Former Chief Constable Michael Fuller said: “Travel arrangements were agreed under my contract with Kent Police Authority.
"The agreement also took into account a personal security threat. This related to my previous role in heading Operation Trident, which reduced gun crime in London.
"The Police Authority made substantial savings by paying for a car and driver instead of relocation expenses. As Chief Constable I worked very long hours with regular 16-hour days.
“I worked in the car – reading reports and dealing with phone calls. I travelled around the county, visiting police stations and attending public meetings. I regularly dealt with serious operational matters from the car, which I would not have been able to do if I had been driving.
“While Chief Constable I substantially improved the performance of Kent Police and crime and disorder was successfully reduced. This year Kent Police was rated as one of the top performing forces in the country.”
Ann Barnes, chairman of Kent Police Authority, said: “The arrangements were put in place in line with national practice. The authority understands the concerns at the cost of providing this, but the decision was made to ensure Mr Fuller was as effective as possible in his duties. Times have moved on and contractual arrangements will be different in the future.”
Do you think Mike Fuller should have been allowed a chauffeur-driven car? Post your thoughts in the comment box below.