1,000 retired RUC officers rehired

Published Wednesday, 03 October 2012
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More than 1,000 Northern Ireland police officers who retired to make way for new recruits have returned as temporary staff, an audit office report has found.

1,000 retired RUC officers rehired
The PSNI was formed as a result of Lord Patten's review of policing. (© UTV)

The officers retired as part of Lord Patten's scheme to overhaul the Royal Ulster Constabulary and introduce more Catholics to policing following decades of conflict.

Almost a fifth of retirees have been re-employed - four for longer than seven years and others re-employed within three months of leaving.

According to a report by comptroller and auditor general for Northern Ireland Kieran Donnelly, more than £106m has been spent by the PSNI on agency staff since 2004.

The report also questioned the awarding of the contract for recruiting temporary staff to Grafton Recruitment.

The PSNI awarded £44m worth of work without competition and cannot demonstrate that best value was obtained.

Many of those hired have valuable specialist skills in areas like intelligence, built up over years of dealing with paramilitary violence in the region.

However, the PSNI is pledged to promote community policing and has reached out to nationalist communities.

Terry Spence is the chairman of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland which represents rank and file officers.

"There was a collective determination by Government and political parties to portray Northern Ireland as being entirely at peace," he said.

The consequences of this over-eagerness was an under-resourced police service with no choice but to rehire experienced officers.

Terry Spence

The PSNI is dealing with a severe threat from dissident republicans which has caused the deaths of police and soldiers in recent years, as well as numerous security alerts and attacks on the force.

The use of agency staff increased following the Patten report after 2001, when around 5,500 regular and full time reserve officers left the service. The PSNI relied on agency staff to cover skill shortages and vacancies in a variety of policing and non-policing roles.

Many agency staff provided specific policing skills but others did not, including work by former PSNI officers as drivers or English language transcribers.

The PSNI has reduced its reliance on agency staff over the last five years, with numbers decreasing from around 800 in 2007 to 400 by March this year.

Gerry Kelly, the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing, said that there is no place for an old boys' network in the new beginning to policing.

"Large numbers retired with handsome severance packages so as to enable the creation of a policing service, which is fully representative of society," the North Belfast MLA said.

Some within the PSNI have been in denial about the implications of retiring and rehiring for the subversion of Patten and public confidence in policing. This needs to end.

Gerry Kelly

The PSNI has welcomed the Audit Office's findings and the recommendations made.

The service said many of the recommendations "are reflective of our current practice."

"The report recognises the clear business need for the PSNI to use temporary staff in an uncertain financial climate, the value for money provided and also the necessity for some of those workers to require previous policing experience," a spokesperson said.

"The report highlights the strength of the arrangements we have in place to manage the use of temporary workers.

"The appropriate place to discuss the detail of the report is with the Policing Board and the Public Accounts Committee and we look forward to having that opportunity in the coming days."

A Policing Board spokesperson said the investigation had "provided a critical review of past policy and practice on the use of Agency staff by PSNI."

"The Report and the findings/recommendations now require careful consideration by both the Board and the PSNI."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
23 Comments
henry in north of ireland wrote (810 days ago):
so after all these years trying to get a police force for all of the people all we got was a new badge........brill.
H.Campbell in UK wrote (811 days ago):
Forgetting all about the rights and wrongs of the Re-Hiring fiasco, why did Grafton Recruitment receive such a huge sum of money for recruiting people who were already earmarked for their jobs prior to leaving the force. In the Police Force, as apparently in the Fire Service, there appears to be little or no accountability within these services. Money, Tax-Payers money, appears to have been wasted on a grand scale. I wonder how many hospital jobs/operations etc; could have been saved with this mis-spent cash. The lunatics have finally taken over the asylum.
craig in belfast wrote (811 days ago):
Specialist jobs my ass, loads of them are drivers, admin people, secuity guards, and answer phones - jobs for the boys plain n simple
henry in north of ireland wrote (811 days ago):
what next? the b-specials,sinn fein have been hoodwinked into this so called peace where nothing has changed from 1968, catholics had no trust in the police then and dont have any now, wellcome to the orange,unionist,state that is the north of ireland and to listen to rob in north down one would think that loyalist are whiter than white and are hard done by well rob take a bus tour up the shankill and have a jook at the wall murals in memory of terrorist who terrorised the catholic people of the north of ireland while ur police force dragged their heels in dealng with em.( b-specials,ruc,psni) same dog, new name.
NIC in Belfast wrote (811 days ago):
Pauline you may find that a lot of the non specialist jobs had and have been on offer to permanant staff. The specialist post had certain constrains or required training or experience . Plus who would replace you and your colleagues if you took on the jobs
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