A Welsh police force which gave a burglar on bail a mobile phone was forced to pay his £44,500 bill.
North Wales Police gave the device to the offender from Anglesey as part of a scheme to help reintegrate offenders back into the community.
An investigation into the error which came to light in 2014, found he had been given a contract SIM rather than a pay-as-you-go phone.
The figure was revealed via a Freedom of Information request put to North Wales police by the Daily Post.
It adds the burglar passed the phone to two associates after he went to prison, who together ran up the bill – equivalent to around £250 a day – over the course of six months.
They were arrested on suspicion of theft, but because the original offender had not signed a contract on how the phone should be used, they were released without charge.
A spokesman for the force said it had reviewed and tightened its procedures. He added the high billing charges had occurred due to use of GPRS for video and music streaming, and various other high data volume internet applications.
Tracey Martin, Director of Finance and Resources, told Huffington Post UK: “North Wales Police will occasionally use inexpensive pay-as-you-go mobile phones to maintain contact with vulnerable victims of crime and offenders to integrate them back into the community.
“This is done through our Integrated Offender Management unit which works with offenders who are subject to court or prison licenses and also with those who are not currently subject to probation supervision.
“This multi-agency team works to help individuals to positively change their life through access to support services. A phone allows two way communications between the offender and the support agencies to provide encouragement and to keep the individual on track for the benefit of the community as a whole.
“Unfortunately on this occasion a contract phone was mistakenly given and then misused. The situation was dealt with as soon as it came to light in 2014 and we have since improved our procedures to ensure that it can’t happen again.”