Belfast Telegraph

Coal and candles among £20k of gifts offered to PSNI officers

By Jonathan Bell

Designer aftershave, Ulster Rugby tickets, chocolates, a Bible, scented candles, Christmas hampers, a woolly hat, a round of golf and even a bag of coal - no it's not the Generation Game, but some of the gifts offered to Northern Ireland police officers.

In the past five years, almost £20,000 worth of gifts have been offered to police officers right across Northern Ireland.

The public, various groups, foreign governments and even a Royal family have all offered gifts.

Items range from a 1pence clock "rescued" from Mountpottinger police station to £2,000 concert tickets handed to a Belfast police officer - which were auctioned off for charity, which probably determined their value.

The Belfast Telegraph obtained the details from a Freedom of Information request. Detailed is a description of gifts or gratuities offered, their value if known, the rank of the officer given the item and if they were accepted.

Some gifts were balloted for charity like two bottles of wine, while two bottles of Jameson whiskey were accepted "so as not to cause offence". Their final destination was not recorded. Police dined out, either at working lunches, awards bashes or ceremonial dinners. Many were explained as building or maintaining working relations. Cash was offered on numerous occasions and in the main it was either refused, accepted or donated to charity.

Oddly one chief inspector registered a certificate in leadership management as a gift - worth £125 from training body ILM, while another accepted £200 worth of T-shirts and baseball caps from a company which supplied audio visual equipment in order to avoid offence and termed as "no influence possible".

Some of the more peculiar gifts included coal, potatoes, a watercolour of the Co Londonderry village of Moneymore, a Women's Institute cookbook and a knitted woolly hat. One officer even registered funeral leftovers, again accepted so as not to cause offence.

Officers were given gifts as they travelled the world or accepted visitors. Recently the PSNI was criticised for sending officers to Qatar to train police. During his visit in October, Chief Constable George Hamilton was presented with gifts from the prime minister and the chief of police, all displayed in his office.

Elsewhere, the Sultanate of Oman - the Middle Eastern country's Royal family - gave a sergeant and a chief inspector a watch each, to the value of £600.

On other occasions, police were given a necklace from Myanmar police, FBI branded caps, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police branding iron and a small pot of syrup from the University of Guelph in Canada.

A PSNI spokesman said: "The police service has a clear policy for the acceptance of gifts, gratuities and hospitality and all officers are made aware of it. The policy sets out the circumstances in which gifts may be accepted, and those in which they should be refused.

"A general principle is that the acceptance of any gift, gratuity or hospitality cannot only result in personal gain. Any gifts received must be officially recorded."

Belfast Telegraph


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