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Board backs resumption of PSNI recruitment after training college concerns

Published 11/11/2016

Chief Constable George Hamilton and chairwoman of the Policing Board Anne Connolly
Chief Constable George Hamilton and chairwoman of the Policing Board Anne Connolly

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has renewed its support for the resumption of recruitment.

It comes after a damning report raised concerns about "pseudo militaristic" practices at the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) training college in Garnerville.

Board chairwoman Anne Connolly said, as good progress had been made on overhauling the system, the oversight body could now support the resumption of recruitment in January.

She said: "Subject to some final details being clarified on this programme to the December 1 meeting, the Board will support student officer intakes recommencing in the new year."

The internal review, led by Chief Superintendent Alan Gibson from Police Scotland, was commissioned after a cheating scandal rocked the Garnerville college in August.

Reviewers likened the east Belfast facility to a military boot camp and said there was an "unhealthy leaning towards punitive discipline".

They also received evidence which amounted to allegations of potential individual misconduct.

The report stated: "The review team was significantly concerned by certain elements of the prevailing culture at the Police College which failed, in their view, to provide a safe and supported learning environment which showcased the values of the organisation."

The PSNI has now ended some of the practices highlighted for criticism.

Ms Connolly added: " It is clear from the review that some of the practices and the overall college culture fell far short of the high professional and ethical standards that the Board expects from the PSNI, its officers and staff.

"It is for this reason Board members are agreed that the majority of the recommended changes have to be made before any new student officers commence training.

"Board members absolutely acknowledge and understand that the delay in recruitment has had some knock on effect on police resources, but it is equally important for policing that the training and its delivery is brought in line with best practice as outlined in the findings of the police college report. The community would expect no less."

The review focused on five key areas including the c ontent of the student officer programme; the c ulture within the police college as well as the leadership and governance at Garnerville.

Many of the 34 recommendations have been implemented and a team has been set up to take forward those still outstanding, said PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton.

The senior officer said: " This will ensure that student officer training is modernised and meets the highest of standards to equip our officers for a challenging and rewarding career in public service.

"We will continue to work with the Northern Ireland Policing Board as we take forward the recommendations and subject to some final details being clarified with them on December 1, hope to recommence student officer intakes in the new year."

The PSNI has also published the full report on its website.

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