20% of retired police officers rehired as temporary staff
CLOSE TO one-fifth of the former officers who retired under the Patten police reform initiative were later re-employed as temporary civilian staff by the PSNI, according to a new audit report published today.
The report found that £106 million (€132 million) was spent on agency staff by the PSNI since 2004 and that 1,071 police officers who retired under the PSNI’s severance schemes were later re-employed as temporary staff.
PSNI use of temporary staff appeared to be “out of control” in the period up to 2011 when a corporate policy was established, it added. Over 10 years the PSNI engaged 2,740 temporary staff.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland succeeded the old Royal Ulster Constabulary in November 2001 as part of the Patten police reform proposals that led to almost 5,500 regular and full-time reserve officers quitting the force.
The fact that more than 1,000 officers, virtually all of whom also served with the RUC, returned as agency staff meant that nearly 19 per cent of Patten retirees ended up back in the police service.
The report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office adverted to how the retirements meant that the total “experience loss” was over 51,000 years which meant that in key areas the PSNI “relied heavily on temporary workers with specific skills, some of whom were Patten retirees re-employed after leaving the force”.
Nationalist politicians have been severely critical of how many former RUC officers were re-employed as temporary civilian staff. Some have also expressed concerns that a number of former RUC officers ended up in the historical enquiries team (Het) of the police service, which investigates past killings of the Troubles, quite a number of them RUC killings.
In relation to the Het, the report stated: “There is potential for conflicts of interest within the historical enquiries team as former RUC officers are employed in five of the nine investigative units. Controls are in place to mitigate this risk.”
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