Ex-police officer jailed after claiming expenses for Pride in London trip without actually going

The parade at Pride in London, 2016

A gay former Staffordshire Police inspector has been sentenced to a year in prison for fraud after he pretended to attend Pride in London and claimed the journey through expenses.

Darren Oakey, 52, said he had attended Pride in London on 1 July 2016, where he was supposed to represent the force, according to Staffordshire Police.

Afterwards, he claimed mileage to and from the event and two days of pay on expenses, according to StokeonTrentLive, with the total coming to £838.28.

However, it eventually became clear that Oakey was never even there.

During an internal investigation into his conduct by the Staffordshire Police’s Anti-Corruption Unit, the former police inspector stuck to his story, insisting that he had in fact attended the parade.

He provided investigators with four photos of the Pride in London parade, claiming he had personally taken them. Investigating officers eventually determined that he had taken the photographs from someone else.

At Oakey’s sentencing on Friday (20 May), at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, prosecutor Jim Dunston said: “He said he had taken them himself. They were found to be images that had been posted on social media by others.

“Meta data proved that was the case. Mr Oakey edited the meta data to back up what he was saying to suggest that the images had been taken by him.

“But he spelled it all using lower case letters which gave the game away. An expert saw that the images were out of sequence.”

He was suspended from the police force in January 2018, but soon resigned and officially left Staffordshire police in June of that year.

In September 2021, Oakey pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and perverting the course of public justice, as well as obtaining or disclosing personal data or information, contrary to the Data Protection Act.

On Friday, Oakey was handed a 12-month prison sentence for his crimes.

Staffordshire Police assistant chief constable Justin Bibby said in a statement: “Darren Oakey was working in a position of trust. He betrayed that trust and let down his colleagues and the police service.

“His suspension and prosecution reinforce the fact that Staffordshire Police is committed to the highest levels of ethical policing and integrity.

“We take offences such as this incredibly seriously and once his offending came to light he was quickly suspended from duty and his access to any information systems removed.

“Any member of Staffordshire Police suspected of a criminal offence will be thoroughly investigated.”