THE row over allegations that bogus fixed penalty notices were created at an anti-crime body has deepened after a failure rate of over half the tickets issued was uncovered.

An audit by Community Safety Glasgow (CSG) revealed that between a third and 58 per cent of penalties doled out by some of its former officers could not be pursued – nearly four times the average.

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “These figures show a huge number of penalty notices can’t be pursued, which raises suspicions that they weren’t legitimate in the first place.”

However, CSG says new measures taken since the audit was carried out will guard against problems in the future.

CSG, co-owned by Glasgow City Council, helps tackle anti-social behaviour in the city and runs the network of CCTV cameras.

Community enforcement officers, equipped with body cameras and handheld digital devices, are empowered to dish out £80 fines for offences such as littering. However, although CSG’s latest accounts showed that 17,773 notices were issued in 2015/16, a source cast doubt on the figures.

The insider said, in the period up until 2015, some staff created bogus fixed penalty notices: “To create a false document, you could simply choose a name from the phone book, or indeed a names and address chosen completely at random. The information would then be entered into the PDA [personal digital assistant], the ticket would be printed and simply destroyed by the officer.”

He added that inventing fixed penalties allowed officers to “easily meet and exceed” the target of issuing two notices a day.

CSG confirmed an audit revealed “discrepancies” in the work of five officers in 2015, which led to an investigation and disciplinary hearings. Four resigned before their hearings and the other person quit midway through the process.

A copy of the 2015 audit, released to this newspaper by CSG, reveals an examination was conducted into thousands of notices issued by 64 staff.

The average community officer issued 149 notices between April and September 2015, with around 15 per cent of the FPN not being pursuable.

However, five officers racked up a failure rate of between 30-40 per cent, two staff had an “unable to pursue” levels of 42 per cent and 48 per cent, while one individual’s tally stood at nearly 60 per cent. In the latter case, nearly 25 per cent had a foreign address. CSG strongly denied the audit discrepancies were due to pressure of work.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “While it’s good to know that the system has been changed since 2015, the scale of the discrepancies does make it hard to understand how nobody noticed the problem. I hope that CSG can also give an assurance that none of the falsified notices actually resulted in a real person paying a penalty that they shouldn’t have been given.”

A CSG spokeswoman said: “In 2015, disciplinary action was taken against five Community Enforcement Officers (CEOs) after a routine audit revealed discrepancies in their work. This sparked an in-depth, root-and-branch internal investigation which led to disciplinary hearings. Four people resigned before their hearings began and the other person resigned midway through their meeting. Regular scrutiny, coupled with a new electronic system, guards against any further incidents of this type.”