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PSNI Chief Constable 'deeply disappointed' by student police officers who may have cheated

Published 16/06/2016

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has spoken of his deep disappointment at allegations student police officers had cheated in their exams.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed earlier this week that more than 50 trainee police officers are suspected of having cheated in their exams.

50 Northern Ireland police trainees in exam cheating scandal  

The PSNI has launched an investigation into the allegations.

The scandal, which is a huge embarrassment to the PSNI, was uncovered following a complaint from a whistleblower.

Speaking after a meeting of the Policing Board on Thursday, Mr Hamilton said 54 trainee officers were suspected of involvement.

"The allegations of impropriety suggested that student officers had individually memorised examination questions and collectively shared this information between themselves with a view to assisting them prepare for any re-sit examinations they might have been required to take," he said.

"This information emerged the day before last Friday’s Graduation. I considered the full range of options available to me which included student suspensions and complete cancellation of the Graduation Ceremony.

"I considered all the information available to me including the early and fulsome acceptance of responsibility by the students concerned while acknowledging the negative impact their behaviour was likely to have on community confidence in them as individuals and the damage to the reputation of PSNI more generally."

He said that the student officers had, "at best, demonstrated extremely poor judgement and their behaviour was a breach of the student officers’ Code of Ethics".

"As Chief Constable I am deeply disappointed by the actions of those student officers who have acted in a way that is not in keeping with the standards I expect from aspiring police officers," he said.

"There have been disciplinary consequences for all of those students who were involved in this impropriety.

"All concerned have received written warnings under the student officer misconduct procedures; they have been the subject of a clear explanation from an Assistant Chief Constable regarding the need for unquestionable integrity and high ethical standards for those who aspire to hold the office of Constable. Clearly the behaviour and ethical standards of those involved will be closely monitored to ensure their performance meets with the high standards the public rightly expect of their police officers.

"The 54 student officers who have benefited from this impropriety are unable to show they have, on their own merits, achieved the required academic standard and will be required to complete the 22 week training programme in its entirety commencing on 4th July. This decision was taken in partnership with Ulster University who accredit the Police Initial Training Programme. While the need to re-sit the 22 week course is a significant set-back for these students at the start of their career, I agree with the Policing Board that integrity is not negotiable.

"I stand by my own judgement on this matter and fully appreciate the views and concerns expressed by the Policing Board. These 54 student officers have been given a final opportunity to prove their integrity, academic ability and high ethical standards of behaviour. Only when they have done so will they be attested as Constables in the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

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