Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The millions still to be spent investigating hacking allegations

It was hardly the box office stuff of recent weeks, but back in March London Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse appeared in front of the Leveson Inquiry.

You might remember the coverage of the session centred on the revelation that more was being spent on investigating claims of hacking (Approx £40 million) than the Met spends in one year on child abuse work (Approx £36 million, apparently)

Predictably this prompted 'More spent on hacking than child abuse' type headlines (more on those later), but curious about the £40 million figure I decided to take a closer look.

After a Freedom of Information request, the Met has now disclosed how much it spent on hacking in the last two financial years, and how much it estimates it will spend on the investigations in the years ahead.

Here are the figures broken down by financial year for spending on Operations Weeting, Elveden, Tuleta and Appleton.*

What this shows is that the investigations won't be slowing down any time soon, with costs in 20/13/14 exceeding those of 2010/11 and 2011/12 combined.

But also worth noting here is the misleading impression created by the reporting of Kit Malthouse's figures.

If we accept the £36 million figure (sorry no FOI on that one folks) then it is obvious that even in the most expensive year of investigations the spend was still less than half as much as Mr Malthouse claimed went on child abuse work.

This is of course not to say that this makes the hacking investigation any more crucial/efficient/justifiable/etc. After all, judging the necessity of the spend of a police investigation in terms of its cost relative to child abuse work does not seem the soundest basis for policing decisions.

What it does show is once again, how easily newspapers can either get the wrong of the stick, or offer it to their readers, sometimes on purpose.

At least now there is more evidence, a correction will no doubt be forthcoming.

*Operation Weeting - police investigation into allegations of phone hacking by the News of the
Operation Elveden - police investigation, supervised by the IPCC, into e-mails received from
News International that allegedly show payments being made to police by the News of the World.
Operation Tuleta - a police investigation into hacking in general terms and so far involved
consideration of hard drives, and other documentation seized in historic operations.
Operation Appleton - The MPS response to the Leveson Inquiry.

(Summaries cribbed from here)

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