Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Northern Ireland police chiefs face grilling by MLAs over temporary workers

Police chiefs face renewed public scrutiny at Stormont today over an Audit Office report critical of the force's recruitment of temporary workers.

PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott and director of human resources Joe Stewart will face MLAs after the public spending watchdog said the service rehired almost 20% of RUC officers who left under the Patten redundancy scheme.

A representative of the Grafton Employment Group, which handled the PSNI's contract for non-permanent workers, will also appear before the Public Accounts Committee.

The Audit Office report described the PSNI policy for recruiting temporary staff as "at one point out of control".

It said the way the process had been managed had not always met the high standards of governance and accountability expected of public sector bodies.

The report revealed that more than 1,000 police officers who had left with large pay-offs had been rehired - with more than 250 of them back within three months.

It also revealed that in 2004, a £44 million contract to employ temporary staff had been awarded to a local company with no competitive tendering process.

About 5,500 RUC officers were paid off under the Patten redundancy scheme - it was thought to be the most generous redundancy package in the world.

Under the Patten policing reforms, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was replaced in 2001 by the PSNI as part of measures to attract more Catholic recruits and make the police more representative of Northern Ireland's population.

Catholics now make up about 30% of PSNI officers.

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