Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

60 police officers disciplined in Northern Ireland over drugs, assaults, sex offences, counterfeiting ...

 

By Christopher Woodhouse

COPS have been sacked, required to resign and had their pay docked for crimes including sex offences, firearms breaches and assault, Sunday Life can reveal.

Officers were also disciplined for motoring offences, failing to investigate and even counterfeiting, according to details released to this newspaper by the PSNI.

In the last year at least one officer in 10 of the PSNI's 11 districts has been rapped for violating procedure or committing a criminal offence, the exception being Mid Ulster.

The Freedom of Information request by Sunday Life revealed 60 officers were subject to disciplinary action last year, ranging from dismissal to written warning.

The most serious matter for which an officer was investigated and disciplined was "sexual offences", though the police would not release any further details of the offence.

An officer was also hauled over the coals for a "firearms issue during domestic" and another for possession of ammunition without a certificate, though due to identification issues the PSNI provided no further details.

One member of the force was also found to have changed an address on a search warrant which is issued by a magistrate to allow police to enter specific premises to gather potential evidence.

The PSNI's disciplinary branch, which supplied the information to Sunday Life, refused to match a date or location to each matter saying it may also identify the officer concerned.

According to the data the most common issue for which cops were reprimanded was failing to investigate crimes, including failing to maintain accurate records and not updating the complainant.

There were also 10 breaches of data protection dealt with in the last year, including one officer who was sanctioned for violating the data protection regulations and having an inappropriate relationship.

But the force would not reveal the nature of the relationship between the officer and the civilian and how it lead to the breach.

The discipline branch also dealt with four instances of officers committing common assault, including one bust-up where an officer was done for assault on police.

Excessive use of force by police resulted in three disciplinary actions, as did inappropriate comments, aggressive behaviour towards colleagues and disorderly behaviour.

According to police records three officers were dismissed, one was required to resign, and eight had their pay reduced.

Others were handed a fine, reprimand, caution or written warning.

The ranks of those disciplined were one inspector, six sergeants and 53 constables.

A spokesperson for the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) said that officers face a range of pressures and only in a very small number of cases did police officers "not get it right".

They told Sunday Life: "Sixty out of a workforce of 6,600 is less than one-hundreth of the payroll, and that becomes much less when you consider the number of officers dealt with by written warning.

"The PFNI has supported many of the officers involved and can say that for the many, they have come away from the process with no sanction, better informed and better equipped to carry out their duties.

"Dismissing an officer is the toughest sanction that can be imposed, but these cases are rare and shouldn't be exaggerated. The PFNI will never excuse blatant criminal behaviour or misconduct. Officers are there to uphold the law and must adhere to the highest professional standards whilst it must be acknowledged that on occasions mistakes are made, which can have catastrophic effects on officers and their families."

Other matters for which officers were disciplined included:

  • Counterfeiting
  • Dishonest account of a road traffic collision
  • Inappropriate language
  • Failing a drugs test
  • Issues relating to the conduct of a business interest
  • Failures when dealing with a missing persons report
  • Motoring offences (unspecified)

The offences or breach of regulations for which officers were disciplined last year occurred between January 2011 and September last year, according to the police.

Just last month the Enniskillen based sergeant was jailed for six months after being convicted of shoplifting. Totten (50, above) was described in court as a "bluffer" who carried out "brazen and bold thefts" at an Asda store in Enniskillen.

Constable MacSherry (right) was jailed for nine years after she admitted killing a man in a drunken car crash in October 2015. Omagh woman MacSherry admitted causing the death of 49-year-old Paul Mills by dangerous driving and drink driving. Mr Mills died after MacSherry's car slammed into the father-of-two's stationary car at over 80mph on the Clanabogan Road, Co Tyrone.

The Dungannon-based officer (left) was given a nine-month suspended jail sentence for passing on information on a Lithuanian man accused of rape to a "female friend". The man was stabbed to death two months later and Donaldson was convicted of unlawfully obtaining personal data from police computers. In a raid at his home, cops found a music counterfeiting operation from which he earned £33k flogging the knock-offs online    

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