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Greater Mancheter Police force spends £16,000 on speaking clock and Directory Enquiries


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Greater Mancheter Police force spends £16,000 on speaking clock and Directory Enquiries


Over two years Greater Manchester Police spent £16,000 of taxpayers' money calling the speaking clock and also Directory Enquiries.


Need to know the exact time? You'll probably check your phone. Need a number for someone? You'll probably look that up on the exact same device you'll use for the call.


A world of information has been available at our fingertips for years, which has made some people question why police in Greater Manchester called the Speaking Clock and Directory Enquiries more than 35,000 times between 2010 and 2012. The cost: £16,000.


Almost 22,000 of those calls were to 118 Directory services. GMP blame that high number on a past lack of "widespread access to the internet" for those needing to "obtain contact details". They insist that's changed and such calls are now "extremely rare".


As for the Speaking Clock, a force spokeswoman tells me they're "looking into" why it was called more than 13,000 times. She would say nothing more, but promised to answer my query later today. It's worth noting that when the Metropolitan Police were subject to a similar revelation, they pointed to "evidential and operational reasons for officers and staff requiring the exact time".


Critics believe police shouldn't be making such calls in the first place. The Taxpayers Alliance say they're shocked at the amount of money spent, and want the force to ensure finances aren't "squandered". They suggest officers find information in other ways.


The GMP's total spending for the coming financial year is expected to be around £570m, which makes £16,000 look a small sum in comparison. But, as any accountant will tell you, small sums add up.


A single call to the speaking clock costs 31p. More than £8,000 was spent on calls to 118 numbers in the 2010/11 financial year. In 2011/12 it spent £1,978. Between April and October 2012, it spent £595 on the calls. Calls to the speaking clock totalled £2,872 in 2010/11, £2,535 in 2011/12 and down to £442 for the 2012 period. The Tax Payers' Alliance (TPA) said it beggared belief the money was being spent on calls while there was real pressure on budgets. TPA political director Matthew Sinclair, said: 'It beggars belief that GMP has racked up a bill for thousands just for calls to directory enquiries and the speaking clock.


'Taxpayers will be aghast that their cash has been spent like that when there is real pressure on budgets and there are plenty of other ways of checking phone numbers or the time. 'GMP - like any organisation funded by taxpayers - must ensure that money is spent carefully and not needlessly squandered.'


Last year it was revealed the Metropolitan Police had spent more than £35,000 on 110,000 calls to the Speaking Clock in the previous two years. The force also spent £200,000 calling directory enquiries, figures release under the Freedom of Information Act showed. Scotland Yard said officers and staff, many without internet access, needed to know exact times and contact details.


The speaking clock was introduced in Britain in 1936. It takes its time from the National Physics Laboratory which broadcasts the atomic clock’s time from Rugby, accurate to one second in one million years.



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