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Four arrests in Bankside ice cream licensing probe

Detectives from the Met Police arrested four people on Thursday - including a serving Southwark police officer - as part of an investigation into allegations of corruption regarding the licensing of riverside ice cream sellers.

The investigation team has been working with Southwark Council after allegations were received in the summer that a council official and a police officer were taking payments to arrange licensing of street trading in the busy tourist areas around Bankside. The investigation has been running for several months and police are also examining suggestions that advance information of police and council trading operations may have been passed to certain street traders.

A series of early morning raids co-ordinated by the Metropolitan Police has led to the arrest of four men on suspicion of corruption and corrupting officials in a public office.

A 37 year-old police constable based in Southwark was arrested at his home address in Kent and a 43 year-old official of Southwark Council was arrested at his home in Chadwell Heath. A 40 year-old was arrested in the Thamesmead area of south-east London and a 39 year-old in the South Ockendon area of Essex. The arrests made in Kent and Essex were conducted with the assistance of local officers from those police forces. Those arrested are in custody at separate police stations in north-east and south-east London where they will be interviewed. Their homes and work premises are being searched and an offensive weapon has been recovered from one address, while a number of documents have been removed for further investigation.

DI Jason Ashwood from the Directorate of Professional Standards said: "These arrests this morning follow an intelligence led operation that has been running for several months and which has centred around serious allegations of corruption. Where we suspect officers may have been involved in criminal behaviour we will not hesitate to act. We are determined to ensure that licensing is seen to be fair and objective, and that the police's role in it is honest and professional."

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