Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Security threat to ex-RUC officers

The security of former RUC part-time reservists has been compromised by a Justice Department blunder, it was claimed last night.

UUP MLA Ross Hussey says former officers' private details were clearly visible on correspondence sent to them in the post by the Department of Justice.

"Several people have already contacted me to complain the envelope clearly showed 'Part Time Reserve Gratuity' across the window," Mr Hussey said. "Clearly they are very concerned that their security has been breached.

"There has to be an apology. Clearly there has to be somebody to take responsibility for this."

A Department of Justice spokesman said it has asked for a "security assessment" of the error to be conducted as a matter of urgency.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed the Government has taken out tax and national insurance from gratuity payments to former RUC part-time reservists.

The deductions can mean a difference of hundreds of pounds to the awards - agreed in talks at Hillsborough last year which produced a deal on devolving policing and justice.

First Minister Peter Robinson has written to Secretary of State Owen Paterson demanding a U-turn on the deductions.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson called the move "disappointing".

He said: "It is only right and proper that the part-time reservists are dealt with on the same grounds as other former members of the security forces."

It is understood that in one case, it is understood, a soldier with five years' service had an actual payment of £1,260 cut back to £915 after deductions.

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: "The Secretary of State will respond to the First Minister's letter."

Background

In 2010 a gratuity scheme was opened to former members of the RUC and PSNI part-time reserves to recognise their service. The £20m scheme was part of the Government's financial deal for the devolution of policing and justice. Over 6,000 former officers are due to receive a one-off payment. Notice of how much they are eligible for is being sent to them this month.

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