Tanya Brookes – Chief Inspector jailed for fraud

Photo from the BBC

               Photo from the BBC

Introduction

We reported last week on the case of a police officer who got banged up for stealing biros. Well, on 6th May 2014 Tanya Brookes a now ex-Chief Inspector in Surrey Police, got sent to prison for some more sophisticated (and higher value) dishonesty.

 

Facts

It seems that Ms Brookes would go to a High Street Shop (such as The White Company in Bicester) and buy ‘luxury items’ at a discount rate. Then she would forge a bank statement to indicate that she had bought the item at full price and go into a different branch to get a refund for the full amount. Apparently she would wear her police ID which no doubt made this process easier.

Other frauds involved buying forged discount vouchers for “products, such as butter” online and using these to buy products at a reduced cost. One (presumably the highest value) involved somehow gaining a £6,000 discount on a luxury holiday for her and her family “by falsely claiming she was a counter-terrorism officer at Gatwick Airport” (it’s not quite clear how this worked).

The total amount defrauded was put at £11,000. It seems that there was a trial where Ms Brookes was convicted of twenty five out of twenty seven offences in March of this year. After this, Ms Brookes pleaded guilty to a further eight.

She was sentenced to 2½ year in prison.

 

Comment

Police Officers in the dock always get whacked, and this one was no exception. If an ‘ordinary’ person committed these offences, the Judge would take out the Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud, turn to page 24 (‘Banking and insurance fraud, and obtaining credit through fraud‘) and put it in the second row and fourth column (multiple frauds that were fraudulent from the outset in the £5,000-£20,000 bracket). Given the starting point is 12 weeks custody after a trial for £12,500, the Judge would probably give a Suspended Sentence.

Ms Brookes was always going to get more than that, and here she got significantly more. The Judge said “The sentence I must pass must make an example of you to others that this kind of behaviour by police officers is thoroughly disapproved of by the courts and by society.

“The tragedy of this case is how you were hitherto of good character, the mother of four children who will suffer inevitably by what I have to do to you.

An immediate prison sentence is no surprise. This does seem longer than would be expected (I would have thought 12-18 months would have been sufficient) so I imagine that there would be an appeal. I doubt it will get very far as the Courts are not impressed by police officers who go bad, but Ms Brookes has nothing to lose.

 

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About Dan Bunting

I'm a lawyer who works for myself. Legal geek, maths freak, general dullard and jack of all trades. Here’s a few views on law and occasional musings on life. Usual caveats about not relying on anything I say etc applies.

12 thoughts on “Tanya Brookes – Chief Inspector jailed for fraud

  1. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    How sad I wonder what drove her to do this. Maybe that “moment of madness” like most people have, but manage to stamp down on, or perhaps the thrill of getting caught right up until the moment she actually did.

    Reply
  2. Dan Bunting Post author

    Agreed – very sad. Although it appears to have been over a long period of time, but it is a great tragedy. That’s partly why 2 1/2 years seems to long. Her career is over and it’s completely ruined her life. I can’t see why 12 months wouldn’t be enough.

    Reply
  3. antonynostro

    I was pleased to see the judge slam tanya johnson,by making an example of her,this is the only way we can deal with police coruption,i mentioned in an e mail that a mandatory 2 year tariff
    for breach of dishonesty during the line of duty.
    well done the judge!

    Reply
  4. Trqcey McMahon

    When we are called ‘fraudsters ‘ regardless of profession, the label never stops.

    What drives us to it? Desperation, sadness, not knowing where to turn, trying to hold it all together?

    Given my sentence for £750, sentencing sure does baffle me.

    Another woman in prison. A suspended with an attachment for hardened community work would have made a better example. Much cheaper for taxpayers.

    Reply
  5. Andrew

    Cheaper for taxpayers no doubt but not the sort of deterrent which the offence caused for. Using the police ID to facilitate fraud strikes at the heart of policing. Possibly a tad too long but not much.

    As for what drove her to it, may I offer a suggestion? Greed. That’s to be found in us all, male and female, we jsut don’t all act on it.

    Reply
    1. Trqcey McMahon

      Andrew,

      Well, taxpayers can’t have it all ways.

      If you say it is Tuesday, then it is Tuesday.

      Greed it may well have been. I’ve never pushed my own mitigating (despite your comments in my transcribing of my fraud case on this very blog) circumstances. If one is guilty, one is guilty.

      A deterrent ? It’s a slightly weak argument given a £5m fraud trial was halted recently.

      Moreover, I agree she abused her position. If it deters police officers from similar acts, then I’ll not fall out with that one.

      I’m eternally grateful I had a Judge who was harsh but fair with me.

      Reply
  6. Nick Tucker

    I was prosecuting counsel. The banking fraud guidelines were not appropriate – all 33 counts were examples of confidence fraud whereby the defendant had used various devices to induce retailers and suppliers to provide her with refunds, exchanges or compensation. There were multiple offences, there was extensive planning and so the second category – 18 months starting point – applied. The judge viewed her position as a serving Chief Inspector as a seriously aggravating feature, hence the uplift. It would be inappropriate for me to comment as to whether the sentence was fair or not, but as we all know it’s easy to come to an erroneous view when you read the edited highlights in the paper…

    Reply
    1. Dan Bunting Post author

      Many thanks for that – always good to actually get the facts! That makes a lot more sense. This is why it would be much better for the sentencing comments to be published whenever possible – helps the public know what is actually happening.

      It may be that there will be an appeal (very little to lose) but an 18 month starting point plus the uplift for her position seems hard to argue with.

      Thanks again for that.

      Reply
  7. Up Rise and Shine London

    Hate to jump on the lock ’em up and thrown away the key bandwagon but she deserves it.
    Confidence is at an all time low in the police and when high ranking police officers commit crimes- for whatever reason- they should be hung out to dry and made an example of, to deter others but more significantly, to allay public fears that when cops are caught, justice gets a bit unpredictable.

    Pity her four children, yes, but there was a lot of planning and forethought, so it doesn’t appear to be just that moment of madness that stomped on her life.
    Mental health issues? Self hatred,narcissistic personality disorder, imposter syndrome, highly likely. Will this be dealt with in prison? Unlikely.
    Will she come out rehabilitated? No.

    Until we decide as a society whether our driver is rehabilitation OR retribution, we’ll maintain a bizarrely bi polar attitude to justify sentencing.

    Reply
  8. Liberte, Egalite, Sororite

    I’m not condoning what Tracey Brookes did but much as with Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce, the question that resonates with me, is whether or not she actually a danger to society. I accept as a serving police officer, with seniority, she has betrayed her rank and brought disrepute to the police and clearly she won’t work for them again. However she isn’t dangerous I don’t feel safer with her locked up in prison what has it achieved?

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      I feel safer because people who might be tempted to do what she did are that much less likely to join the police in the first place. I am afraid that it was inevitable.

      Reply

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