West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spent over £18,000 paying investigators to spy on six of its staff (From Keighley News)
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West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spent over £18,000 paying investigators to spy on six of its staff
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spent over £18,000 paying investigators to spy on six of its staff.
Last month the service hit the headlines after Denholme resident Anthea Orchard, 35, a former 999 call handler, revealed she had left with an £11,000 payoff after discovering she had been spied on while on sick leave.
She was off work with stress and hyperthyroidism and discovered bosses had hired private investigators to watch her, believing she was running a balloon business.
She even discovered a GPS tracker attached to her car.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed Mrs Orchard was not the only worker the service had under surveillance.
The response revealed that between April 2008 and April this year six members of staff were being watched, at a cost of £18,366.
Mrs Orchard said: “It is a lot of money when they are shutting fire stations. They cut the number of engines in Keighley down to one recently. Tell the people of Keighley this spending is worth it.”
Asked how many complaints they had received from staff over surveillance, the service said: “There were no complaints formally logged through our normal complaints procedure.”
Dave Williams, from the Fire Brigades’ Union, said: “I’m disappointed at the amount of times this has happened. Occasionally staff might cross the line and need disciplining but I can’t believe it happens this often.”
A fire service statement said: “As an employer we have to deal with circumstances where there are reasonable grounds to suspect an employee may be in breach of their contract.
“In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to conduct covert observations, which is a common, long-established lawful practice sanctioned by the courts as appropriate when carried out for proper reasons.”
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