Two men who served with Dorset Police have felt the full force of the law.
A former Dorset Police officer is now behind bars for a fraud offence and a former police superintendent has been found guilt of gross mis-conduct.
Matthew Littlefair, 36, was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court on Wednesday 3 November to two years and three months in prison after admitting a charge of fraud by false representation.
On 30 October 2017 Littlefair was involved in a minor road traffic collision in Hampshire while he was off duty and subsequently attended hospital for injuries including whiplash and back pain.
After being discharged from hospital, he reported as unfit for duty and took sick leave from work.
In April 2018 Littlefair attempted a return to work with reasonable adjustments, such as home working and reduced hours, but claimed his pain and symptoms were so severe he could not continue this as he still suffered from constant pain.
In September 2019, based on information provided by Littlefair, a medical practitioner determined Littlefair could no longer perform his duties as a frontline police officer and he was offered an ill-health award, which required a formal review in five years’ time.
Littlefair appealed the decision, claiming he was unlikely he would be able to work again in the future and an appeal hearing was initially set for March 2020 but was subsequently delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Littlefair continued to receive his full salary during this period.
In January 2020, Dorset Police’s Counter Corruption Unit was made aware of concerns of the legitimacy of Littlefair’s claims and launched an investigation, which was supervised by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
A surveillance team was deployed as part of the investigation and on several occasions they witnessed Littlefair drive to remote locations to take part in activity such as walking his dog or running.
A search was conducted at his address in May 2020 and officers found six pharmacy bags containing prescription medication dating back to October 2019. Only two of the bags had been opened and a very small amount of the medication used. Analysis of seized digital devices identified compelling evidence, which revealed that Littlefair was leading an active life throughout his period of sickness.
Littlefair was interviewed by officers on 28 May 2020 and subsequently suspended from duty. Investigators engaged with the Crown Prosecution Service who authorised Dorset Police to charge Littlefair with fraud by false representation.
After entering his guilty plea, Littlefair has subsequently resigned as a Dorset Police officer. Following the conclusion of the court case, formal misconduct proceedings will be held.
At the sentencing hearing a timetable was also set for Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings to recover the pay Littlefair had fraudulently claimed from Dorset Police.
Detective Inspector Darren Moores, of Dorset Police’s Counter Corruption Unit, said: “The evidence we compiled clearly shows that, while Matthew Littlefair gave the indication that he was unfit for work and in constant pain to both colleagues and medical professionals, he was in fact continuing to lead a full and active life.
“Police officers are publicly funded to protect the public and whilst the vast majority of police officers execute their duties with commitment and dedication, they are not above the law and it was wholly in the public’s interest to investigate Littlefair and bring him to justice for his deceit. Police officers are rightly accountable to the public and I hope that this investigation demonstrates that Dorset Police will not shy away from investigating suspected wrongdoing by members of the Force.”
Guilty of gross misconduct
Michael Rogers, who retired as a superintendent in May 2021, has been found guilty of gross misconduct. He appeared at a misconduct hearing at Dorset Police Headquarters in Winfrith between Wednesday 27 October and Wednesday 3 November in relation to allegations that he had breached the standards of professional behaviour relating to honesty and integrity, as well as those concerning orders and instructions, duties and responsibilities and conduct.
It was found that between July 2015 and March 2019 Mr Rogers had used hire or pool vehicles for work and for private journeys when he knew that he should not do so, knowingly declared less private mileage than he had travelled and submitted claims for expenses that he had not incurred.
The panel was told that between July 2015 and October 2016 Mr Rogers was claiming for essential vehicle user allowance, which compensated him for using his personal vehicle while carrying out his duties. However, he was still regularly using pool or hire vehicles at the Force’s expense. He was also using these vehicles for private journeys.
From November 2016 Mr Rogers took possession of a force vehicle, which he was free to use as he wished but was required to declare his personal mileage. It was alleged that Mr Rogers had substantially under declared how much private mileage he had undertaken from November 2016 to March 2019. He faced further allegations in relation to making additional claims for expenses, such as meals where he claimed for more than he spent.
The hearing panel, led by an independent legally qualified chairman, determined that Mr Rogers had breached the standards of professional behaviour and was guilty of gross misconduct. It was determined that, had he still been employed by Dorset Police, he would have been dismissed.
Following the hearing, Deputy Chief Constable Sam de Reya, Dorset Police’s lead for professional standards, said: “We expect the highest standards of professionalism and integrity at all times from our officers, particularly those in senior positions.
“It is hugely disappointing that a former superintendent has been found guilty of gross misconduct. Dorset Police expects everyone in the service to operate with honesty and integrity in everything they do.
“The former superintendent was in a position of authority where they should have acted as a role model to others and led professional standards across their teams and the wider organisation.
“In this case their dishonest behaviour has been proven to have fallen short of our expectations. Had the individual not already left the organisation, the outcome of the hearing would have led to dismissal.
“If you have any concerns in respect of any member of the organisation, we encourage you to report them to Dorset Police so they can be thoroughly investigated.”
Anyone can report any concerns to Dorset Police by calling 101 or emailing email@example.com.
Alternatively members of the public can contact the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) – details of which can be found via their website www.policeconduct.gov.uk or anonymously via the Crimestoppers charity online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or freephone 0800 555 111.
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