Belfast Telegraph

Ex-officers seek help after breach

More than 170 former police officers have contacted an emergency help service set up after an administrative error potentially compromised their security, the Assembly has been told.

Some of those ex-members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary's Part-Time Reserve may be considered for a relocation scheme if police substantiate that their safety is at risk, Justice Minister David Ford said.

A telephone line and email facility were put in place after 6,000 former reservists had their past service potentially exposed when they were sent a gratuity payment in envelopes with a clear window.

The documentation visible through the envelopes in some instances outlined the individuals' past membership of the security forces.

Mr Ford revealed the number of officers who had come forward as he responded to an emergency Assembly debate on the foul up.

"In terms of those who have raised concerns to date, 156 people have called the telephone helpline, nine people have emailed and nine people have written to the department (of Justice)," he said.

The £20 million gratuity fund was made available by the Treasury to make the one-off payment to officers in the now-defunct reserve in recognition of their service during the Troubles. Mr Ford said police would conduct individual assessments of the security risk posed as a result of the breach.

But he stressed that the majority of people who contacted the help service had concerns about their security in the past, with only a small minority raising fears about their current situation.

The debate was tabled by Ulster Unionist MLA and former reserve officer Ross Hussey, who said: "Many who were prepared to risk their lives for the security of this province have now had their personal security threatened by gross incompetence."

"They feel they have been treated with contempt by the Department of Justice and by Her Majesty's Government and a grovelling apology to this house will not be sufficient to satisfy the upset this farcical set of circumstances has created."

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