London police force reveals warrant card abuse by officers

Scotland Yard has published details of dozens of complaints about misuse of warrant cards by its Metropolitan Police officers. This includes one against an off-duty officer who gained free entry to a football match by showing her warrant card and claiming to be undercover.

Details of the incident, which resulted in the drunken officer receiving a written warning, are revealed in a Freedom of Information response published on the Met’s website.

Other substantiated complaints include 9 separate instances of officers and special constables misusing their cards to travel on national rail services.

Both full-time officers and special constables can travel on Transport for London services for free by showing their warrant cards.

Full-time officers can also opt in to a scheme which lets them travel without a ticket on rail services in and around London in return for make a small monthly contribution. Participating officers receive a special travel card to prove their entitlement.

The Met’s guidance warns that “officers who are found to have abused the concession, or travel without the appropriate warrant and travel card will be dealt with seriously.”

A number of officers were disciplined after being caught using their warrant cards to travel first class or on high speed rail services.

One special constable was dismissed after being caught trying to pass himself off as a full-time officer by only showing part of his warrant card in order to travel for free.

 Another special constable left the force after it was reported he “attempted to gain access into a social club by abusing his position.”

The Met’s disclosure, which covers the past two years, also reveals that one officer was issued a final written warning after using their warrant card to pressure bar staff into serving alcohol to a friend who had previously been refused service.

A further officer left the force after falsely reporting his warrant card as stolen when he’d in fact lost it.

In a statement accompanying the FOI response, the force said: “The MPS employs in excess of 31,000 police officers and over 5,000 volunteer police officers in the Metropolitan Special Constabulary and its Employer Supported Policing programme.

“The number of police officers that are disciplined for misuse of their warrant card each year accordingly, represents a very small percentage of those police officers employed by the MPS.

“Any instance where the conduct of our staff is alleged to have fallen below the standards of behaviour expected is treated extremely seriously by the MPS.”

* Martin Hoscik writes for