Belfast Telegraph

Cheating police students in Northern Ireland could be shown door

By Deborah McAleese

Some of the 78 student police officers caught cheating in their exams may not be hired as constables at the end of their two-year probation, the PSNI has said.

Written warnings sent to all of the shamed recruits will be taken into consideration by their district commander when deciding if they are suitable to serve as an officer, the force explained.

The trainees were caught memorising and sharing test questions ahead of assessment.

More than 20 of them have since graduated from the PSNI training college and have been sent out to districts as probationers for two years.

Another 56 students are currently retaking their exams after being ordered back to week one of the process.

Recruitment has been suspended until at least December to allow for an independent review of the examination process and the culture within the policing college at Garnerville.

In the wake of the scandal, the Chief Constable faced accusations from some members of the Policing Board that he had been "too lenient" in his handling of the situation.

However, the PSNI has since revealed that warnings the recruits received after they were caught cheating will be considered at the end of their probation period. "The written warnings are recorded on their personal development profile (PDP), which is passed to the district commander in the district to which they are appointed following attestation," a PSNI spokeswoman said.

"It is important to note that the written warning remains on their PDP throughout their probationary period and is relevant to the district commander's consideration of their overall suitability for them to be confirmed as a constable at the end of this two-year probationary period."

The PSNI also said that the Police College review may bring additional recommendations following the scandal, which caused the PSNI massive embarrassment.

Policing Board member Ross Hussey said he believed that any recruit who was caught cheating should have been sacked on the spot.

"I know some would say that would be too harsh, but the whole thing has been very damaging to public confidence in the police," he added.

"My own view is that they should have been dismissed. The public need to know these officers received a suitable reprimand."

Last week, Chief Constable George Hamilton told a public meeting of the Policing Board he acknowledged that there was a practice within the Police College earlier this year "that gave us some cause for concern".

He said that some students "went a step too far" when they attempted to memorise exam questions so they could share them with colleagues who had to resit the tests.

"Some would say that was good teamwork, (but) that to me doesn't hold any water," Mr Hamilton added.

He said a five-week review was being carried out by the head of police training in Scotland.

The findings will be with the board this month.

Belfast Telegraph


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