POLICE made more than £120,000 in a deal that saw them hand out claims leaflets when they were called to road crashes, The News can reveal.
Car Call Ltd handed over £24,000 a year to Hampshire Constabulary from 2011 to 2016 in exchange for traffic police giving out the adverts.
The firm, based in Downley Road, Havant, provides claims assistance and replacement vehicles for people in crashes.
But despite the sponsorship being sanctioned by the now-defunct Hampshire Police Authority, roads policing officers have been investigated after motorists complained.
And after two years of investigations – and despite an appeal from the firm’s chief executive to the force ethics committee – the deal was ended in November 2016.
The decision comes two years after concerns were raised the scheme relied on police ‘to sell’ the firm’s services to ‘vulnerable’ drivers.
Sources have told The News traffic police felt ‘deeply uncomfortable’ at dishing out the leaflet to crash victims.
Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane gave three months’ notice to end the deal in August.
He said: ‘While this historic arrangement was lawful, concerns were rightly raised by officers and members of the public.
‘Following review of the ethical committee’s observations, I took my decision to give notice and end the agreement with Car Call.’
A report seen by The News and drawn up by Assistant Chief Officer Nicole Cornelius following two meetings of the force’s ethics committee reveals it was decided that:
n The scheme ‘relies on police interaction with the public at a point of vulnerability... to sell’ the firm’s services.
n A chief inspector who introduced the scheme later joined the firm in 2014, as did others, which police worried the public may see as ‘inappropriate’.
n Concerns were raised after a Code of Ethics was introduced in July 2014.
n Thames Valley Police, which shares roads policing with Hampshire, rejected an approach by Car Call.
n Police feared drivers would think the service was ‘endorsed’ by the force.
n The leaflet disclaimer was in small print and ‘distressed or confused’ drivers could be ‘influenced to use’ the firm by receiving the letter.
n Complaints against officers were investigated but closed as the deal was approved.
The News also found the firm sponsored a chief constable’s conference in 2011/12.
Now the force will spend £1,160 to design and print a new version of the booklet.
The report said: ‘It’s not acceptable to the officers to be the subject of complaints for undertaking an action that is not a core responsibility of their role and is on behalf of a commercial company.’
Car Call’s managing director Gavin Little refused to comment due to ‘confidentiality’ and ‘contract restrictions’.
A police spokeswoman said a policing standards manager reported on the ‘ethics, integrity and professional standards’ in 2014 before going to two ethics committees and it was looked at by a superintendent.
She said: ‘We accept this has taken some time to complete.’