Four suspended over 'racist texts'
Four police officers in Northern Ireland have been suspended over claims they exchanged racist and sectarian text messages.
Their mobile telephones have also been confiscated and examined.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said: "The message is going out loud and clear - this racist and sectarian behaviour will not be tolerated."
The four were interviewed after the texts were allegedly discovered when officers belonging to the PSNI's professional standards department were investigating an unrelated internal matter.
None of the four are of senior rank. It is understood no members of the public received any of the messages.
The deputy Chief Constable said the allegations would be treated with the utmost gravity. She added: "I would be confident that if you had access to any of these texts would find them deeply offensive."
Earlier, the police said in a statement: "The Police Service is proud of its reputation for delivering a personal, professional and protective policing service to the people of Northern Ireland, and we expect our staff to behave ethically and with the utmost integrity at all times both on and off duty.
"Any officer who fails to abide by the high standards of behaviour expected of all officers as laid out in our code of ethics can expect to be rigorously investigated."