There’s no question that Norway’s refugee influx has put heavy overtime demands on officials needing to deal with it, and their budgets have been expanded accordingly. Now it’s alleged that some of them within the state police have exploited the situation to pad their own pockets.
Newspaper VG reported on Friday that several leaders of the division of the Norwegian state police in charge of immigration issues (Politiets utlendingsenhet, PU) have been accused of logging far more overtime hours than they actually worked. The police’s own internal affairs division, VG reported, has called in an accounting firm to help with its investigation.
‘Bad role model’
The suspected leaders have been reported for allegedly using their new billion-kroner budget to claim unjustified overtime. “Trusted leaders who have taken advantage of the situation are a bad role model for other employees,” Einar Sagli, an employees’ representative who filed the reports, told VG.
The leaders are accused handing in overtime claims for carrying out various assignments that weren’t completed, and to have claime that they carried out routine administrative tasks on weekends and holidays when overtime compensation is high.
One of the accused leaders allegedly listed eight hours of overtime on a holiday for attending to his “mail, administrative work and expense account.” In the course of one month, another leader claimed 103 hours of overtime, which amounted to NOK 81,750 (USD 9,600) in compensation on top of the leader’s normal salary.
PU chief Kristin Kvigne told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that since the case was under investigation, it was difficult for her to comment. The head of the police officers’ union representing the leaders (Norges Politilederlag) said that if the charges were correct, the overtime fraud was “absolutely reprehensible and not in line with the standards for working within the police.” Union boss Jonny Nauste said he had only been made aware of the case through the media reports on Friday, but told NRK that overtime fraud is intolerable.
The leader of the police unions’ federation, Politiets Fellesforbund, stressed that no one had been convicted, but that it was important the charges were under investigation. “It’s important we get to the bottom of this,” he said.