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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
New police guidelines after Mallon inquiry
Ray Mallon
Mr Mallon was elected mayor of Middlesbrough
A Home Office investigation into the Operation Lancet corruption inquiry on Teesside has called for a new way of carrying out internal police investigations.

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered the examination of Lancet, which centred on Cleveland Police, in April 2001.

The report has found that police operations such as Lancet are hampered by "unachievable expectations" and "apparently unconstrained expenditure".

Ray Mallon, former head of Middlesbrough CID and now mayor of Middlesbrough, was investigated as part of the Lancet inquiry after alleged malpractice by his officers.

'Costs controlled'

Lancet started in 1997 amid allegations that drugs were being traded for confessions and that prisoners were being assaulted.

Five years later, no criminal charge has been brought, and critics claim the Lancet investigation has cost more than 3m

The report criticised Lancet for putting too much pressure on some investigators.

It also come up with recommendations detailing how future internal police inquiries should be carried out, including cost management and establishing national guidelines.

Mr Mallon said: "I welcome the recommendations in this report and commend them to the government.

Cleveland Police logo
Cleveland Police started Operation Lancet in 1997

"I agree wholeheartedly with the conclusions of the review, namely that future investigations must be ringfenced, their costs carefully controlled and officers in charge must have experience of major crime investigations."

Cleveland Acting Deputy Chief Constable Della Cannings said the report was not "a direct commentary" on Lancet as files had not been opened to the review team because of "on-going disciplinary matters".

She said the force "welcomed the clear statement of the review team in recognising difficulties faced in any major investigation."

The review was carried out by Bill Taylor, the former Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, as part of a broader government investigation into the way police complaints are handled.

Taxpayers' money

In his report summary he said that "when dealing with alleged malpractice by police officers", there is a desire for a thoroughness and conclusiveness" which can "border on the search for perfection and result in an intoxicating cocktail".

He said the cocktail included unachievable expectations, investigatory activity disproportionate to the central issues, apparently unconstrained expenditure and inappropriate elongation of the inquiry.

Mr Taylor concluded: "This cocktail, rather than resulting in effectiveness which must be the outcome that best represents the public interest, can be a major contributory factor in creating widespread dissatisfaction."

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Ashok Kumar, a critic of Lancet, said there needed to be an examination to see exactly how much taxpayers' money was spent.

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03 May 02 | Politics
11 Feb 02 | England
06 Feb 02 | England
04 Apr 01 | UK
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