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'Show us we have your support', officers tell police chief as Twitter row rumbles on

By Deborah McAleese

Published 23/08/2016

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

Pressure is growing on the Chief Constable to show his support for officers who are struggling with the increasing challenges of the job.

George Hamilton apologised on Sunday for a late night outburst on Twitter, during which he told an officer to "dry your eyes" and to stop "wallowing in self pity" after he raised concern about job pressures.

The Police Federation - the body that represents rank and file officers - accused the Chief Constable of "stunning misjudgement", but accepted his apology.

However, officers have said there remains a lot of "anger and discontent" over what Mr Hamilton said.

"The Chief Constable just wants this to go away and for us all to forget about it. But what he said on Twitter reaffirms what officers have long been saying, that senior management team are far removed from what is happening on the ground. A staged apology isn't going to cover the cracks," one officer said.

Another added: "The truth is, 99% of people believe that the higher echelons of the job hold everyone in such contempt. It's a case of 'if you don't like it then go'. "I love my job and I genuinely like the Chief Constable. I like that he engages with the public on Twitter and that sort of openness. But he hasn't actually apologised for what he said - for the mindset. The knife has gone in and there is a lot of discontent."

One officer said she felt the Chief Constable's apology came across as "staged and forced". She said: "He didn't apologise for what he said. For a long time now officers on the ground have felt that the senior management team just see us as replaceable.

"It was totally unprofessional to have an outburst like that in such a public forum. We'd be hauled up if we were spotted having a barney with an officer in front of the public. That's exactly what the Chief Constable did on Twitter."

Another officer wrote on social media: "I truly love my job. I don't want to move on. I frequently have to dry my eyes because I deal with horrible tragic things.

"I have had to put the job ahead of my marriage. I see every day the impact it has on my kids. I give this job my all. There has to be some acknowledgement that the guys and girls on the street are worth support."

The PSNI said there would be no further comment.

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