#PoliceCorruption:The Home Office wasted nearly half a million pounds on rubber bullets that police are not allowed to use.
It spent £427,00 on the plastic baton rounds bought from overseas, even though they did not pass UK safety standards and cannot be used here. The purchase was made to bolster police forces in the aftermath of last summer's inner-city riots, but the wasted money risks stretching budgets which have already been slashed.
Non-lethal force: An officer of the Metropolitan Police special firearms unit SO19 demonstrates a baton round gun on the firing range in Epping Forest
It was part of more than £806,000 lost through blunders by officials, which also included a botched property transaction. The waste was revealed in the Home Office's accounts for the year ending March 2012, under a section headed 'Fruitless payments'. The report describes them as 'payments for which liability ought not to have been incurred or where the demand for the goods or services in question could have been cancelled in time to avoid liability'.
The report goes on: 'A fruitless payment of £427,000 was made for baton rounds that passed testing in the country of manufacture but not in the UK. 'This meant they could not be used in the UK.' The news is the latest in a string of procurement disasters by Whitehall. The Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health have come under particular criticism for wasting money on botched purchases. The Government last month announced it could bring in the private sector to take responsibility for purchases in a last ditch attempt to remedy Whitehall's spendthrift culture.
Expensive mistake: Home Office officials spend nearly £500,000 on the baton rounds which were not cleared for use in the UK
David Hanson MP, Labour's Shadow Policing Minister, told the Daily Telegraph: 'The level of incompetence demonstrated in wasting £427,000 of taxpayers' money on rubber bullets without thinking to check whether they meet UK safety standards is frankly breathtaking. 'The Home Office is lurching from one shambles to the next on an almost daily basis, with an utter lack of effective leadership from Government. 'What will concern people most is that the Home Secretary is either unwilling or unable to get a grip on her department to deal with these failures.' The blunder has emerged as the Home Office struggles with the G4S Olympic security fiasco and its UK Border Agency has come under fire for its handling of queues at Airports. The Home Office's accounts also reveal that it expects to spend £11.2million renovating a grade 1 listed used as a police training centre. It has also been calculated that the summer riots could cost the Home Office nearly £100million in damages, mostly in propery insurance claims.