Met spends £35k on speaking clock

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that the Metropolitan police spent more than £35,000 making 110,000 calls to the speaking clock in the last two years.

The force also spent more than £200,000 calling directory enquiries over the last two years, according to the figures.

Outlandish spend

The figures show that officers and staff made almost 50,000 calls to the speaking clock last year and almost 60,000 in 2009/10. At 31p per call, that amounts to a total of £16,879 in 2010/11, and £18,402 the previous year.
The Met lavished £95,313 on directory enquiries in 2010/11, down from an even more astounding £121,501 the previous year.


A Scotland Yard spokesman told the press that for many officers and staff who had no direct internet access, there were operational and evidential reasons why they required the exact time and contact information.

The spokesman said; "We are committed to reducing such costs wherever possible and all directory enquiries from landline telephones are routed to one service with no option to be put through directly.

"Whilst officers will usually phone in for assistance, there will be occasions where other means for finding out contact information quickly are used."


Critics described the figures as 'incredible' at a time when the Met, like all forces, is facing severe budget cuts.

Matthew Sinclair, director of campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Daily Mail: "It is incredible that while there is real pressure on their budgets, and the taxpayers who pick up the bill, London police have spent tens of thousands of pounds on directory enquiries and the talking clock."

And it seems that the Met isn't only the police force racking up a huge phone bill for premium rate numbers. Devon and Cornwall Police spent £1,393 on the speaking clock between 2009 and 2011, and over £14,000 on directory enquiries over the same period. Meanwhile, Leicestershire Police spent £727 on the speaking clock and £11,342 on directory enquiries over the past two years.

Devon and Cornwall Police said that the speaking clock was used to 'synchronise telecoms systems'. A spokesman explained; "Because these systems are on different servers there is often a discrepancy in the times on them (only a small slippage) and it is important that the force is recording data accurately, but more crucially information is provided for evidential purposes and this needs to be precise."
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