03 February 2006

200 cops have a criminal record

Daily Ireland

POLICE REPORT: No equality in PSNI recruitment until 2027

by Ciarán Barnes

- 148 constables, 19 sergeants, 28 full-time reservists and five part-time reservists
have a criminal record

- Police failing to implement recruitment targets laid down by Patten Commission
– only 16 per cent of force is Catholic

Two hundred officers currently serving in the PSNI have criminal convictions, Daily Ireland can reveal.
Northern Ireland Office (NIO) statistics show 19 sergeants, 148 constables, 28 full-time reserve officers and five part-time reserve officers have criminal records.
The figures came to light on the same day that Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton confirmed seven officers were convicted of drink-driving last year.
At a meeting of the Policing Board, he revealed a further 28 officers may be prosecuted for alcohol-related motoring offences. Mr Leighton claimed the prosecutions showed PSNI members are treated in the same manner as the public.
The statistics have alarmed politicians and policing board members worried at the high-levels of criminal convictions among members of the PSNI.
SDLP assemblyman John Dallat last night called for a review of the criteria used to decide whether officers with criminal convictions are retained.
He said: “Police officers are supposed to lead by example, but clearly in the cases of these 200 officers they have not.
Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey accused the PSNI of trying to cover up rates of criminal convictions among its officers.
He said: “It should come as no surprise that a culture of concealment has transported itself from the RUC to the PSNI.”
During yesterday’s Policing Board meeting, independent member Pauline McCabe questioned the disciplinary action taken against PSNI members convicted of drink-driving.
PSNI bosses have admitted that of the seven convicted only one was dismissed. Ms McCabe said: “Members were shocked we hadn’t taken a tougher line on these offenders.”
Confirming 200 members of the PSNI have criminal convictions, direct-rule minister, Shaun Woodward, said: “The majority of the offences concerned are traffic offences. People with serious or terrorist backgrounds are not considered to be suitable to serve in the police service.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “We are very clear on the regulations concerning standards to join the PSNI. The PSNI continue to adhere to the regulations determined by the legislation.”
Last week, police chiefs admitted a Co Down detective convicted of fraud is still in the pay of the PSNI. Charles Metcalfe was given a 12-month suspended sentence after admitting earning hundreds of pounds a day as a bodyguard in Iraq while on official sick leave at home.
In Belfast County Court on Tuesday, former PSNI officer Alan Leckey was found guilty of dangerous driving. The actions of the 40-year-old, who received a police pension after retiring on health grounds, were branded “disgraceful” by the judge.

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