A whiter-than-white police officer declared he had refused a cup of coffee in a meeting as police staff try to come to terms with toughened up rules on hospitality.
The officer made the declaration on Sussex Police’s official register after turning down a free cup of coffee in a meeting with staff from electronics equipment Ricoh.
His refusal has been blamed on the issuing of new guidance to forces earlier this year from the College of Policing in the wake of the Leveson inquiry.
In the most recent Sussex Police register for October to March, police staff declared a number of gifts including boxes of biscuits, a pack of sausages, flowers, aftershave, and calendars.
The police union said making officers declare cups of coffee was “petty” and a “waste of time” but a force spokeswoman said the declaration had been “over cautious” and was unnecessary.
While the register is designed to root out corruption and avoid any conflict of interest, officers are declaring small gifts costing just a few pounds.
With many low-value offerings, often given for sentimental reasons, officers explain they were accepted so as to avoid giving offence to people making the gift.
Other unusual gifts included a “small ornamental dog”, a “fermenting glass jar”, a novelty bell, a German dictionary and sticks of dried biltong.
Former Chief Constable Martin Richards put in the register that he was unable to take up an invitation to St Anne’s Church in Lewes where “light refreshments” would have been on offer.
Officers declared a gift from Bayern Munich Football Club after the German team were given a police escort through Gatwick Airport.
In total, 146 of the 164 gifts offered to officers in six months were accepted.
Mark White, secretary of Sussex Police Federation, said: “It’s only just come in but it is a bit petty and a complete bureaucratic waste of time that officers have to account for a cup of coffee.
“It is right that the new rules are cracking down on police corruption and officers do have to be accountable but I don’t think that includes a cup of coffee.
“What we want to avoid is paranoia setting in and detracting from what the intention of the rules was.”
Sussex Police said the force reviewed its gratuities policy this year with the new code asking colleagues to consider whether the offer of a gift was “genuine, independent, free and transparent”.
She added: “There is an expectation that colleagues act within the spirit of policy, however on this occasion this recipient appears to have been over cautious.”