Chief Constable George Hamilton was invited to attend the NI Policing Board today to outline the circumstances surrounding incidents of impropriety at the Police College, Garnerville.
Following the meeting the Chief Constable said,
“The allegations of impropriety suggested that student officers had individually memorised examination questions and collectively shared this information between themselves with a view to assisting them prepare for any re-sit examinations they might have been required to take.
This information emerged the day before last Friday’s Graduation. I considered the full range of options available to me which included student suspensions and complete cancellation of the Graduation Ceremony.
I considered all the information available to me including the early and fulsome acceptance of responsibility by the students concerned while acknowledging the negative impact their behaviour was likely to have on community confidence in them as individuals and the damage to the reputation of PSNI more generally. I concluded that the student officers had, at best, demonstrated extremely poor judgement and their behaviour was a breach of the student officers’ Code of Ethics.
As Chief Constable I am deeply disappointed by the actions of those student officers who have acted in a way that is not in keeping with the standards I expect from aspiring police officers.
There have been disciplinary consequences for all of those students who were involved in this impropriety. All concerned have received written warnings under the student officer misconduct procedures; they have been the subject of a clear explanation from an Assistant Chief Constable regarding the need for unquestionable integrity and high ethical standards for those who aspire to hold the office of Constable. Clearly the behaviour and ethical standards of those involved will be closely monitored to ensure their performance meets with the high standards the public rightly expect of their police officers.
The 54 student officers who have benefitted from this impropriety are unable to show they have, on their own merits, achieved the required academic standard and will be required to complete the 22 week training programme in its entirety commencing on 4th July. This decision was taken in partnership with Ulster University who accredit the Police Initial Training Programme. While the need to re-sit the 22 week course is a significant set-back for these students at the start of their career, I agree with the Policing Board that integrity is not negotiable.
I stand by my own judgement on this matter and fully appreciate the views and concerns expressed by the Policing Board. These 54 student officers have been given a final opportunity to prove their integrity, academic ability and high ethical standards of behaviour. Only when they have done so will they be attested as Constables in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The decision making for the investigation, conclusions and sanctions are a matter for me as Chief Constable. It was apparent at today’s meeting that the Policing Board was concerned at the action I had taken. I have already commissioned an investigation into all the circumstances and will report to the Policing Board in due course. I have appointed Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd to lead on the follow through actions and any further investigation including a review of the current practices within the Police College.
I accept that others may not fully agree with my decisions on the matter. However, I have acted in good faith and with integrity believing that my actions have been proportionate and appropriate in all the circumstances.”