'We are not hiding we will pursue them,' says senior PSNI chief over police misconduct

The PSNI says it is taking robust action to "root out" any officers who are breaking the law or its codes of conduct.

The vow from a senior staff member in the Professional Standards Department comes after it emerged that nine officers were sacked in 2022 for sexual or domestic misconduct.

New figures also show that 34 officers are currently suspended on full pay while being investigated for sexual misconduct, and there are 72 cases under investigation for either sexual misconduct or an offence with a domestic element.

Five hearings are scheduled for 2023, with more expected to be added to that as evidence gathering progresses in more cases.

The number of cases under investigation is much greater than the number of suspensions, with the PSNI saying that is because "duty status readjustment", or moving away from public facing roles, is commonly used where the accusations are less serious.

"I think it's awful for policing right now, probably across the world never mind the United Kingdom," said Superintendent Claire McGuigan. 

Aside from the latest revelation, she is referring to various extremely distressing and high profile cases involving disgraced police officers.

Wayne Couzens from the Met Police in London kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard.

David Carrick, also from the Met Police, admitted dozens of rape and sexual offences this week.

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is investigating a case in which an officer was suspended for allegedly sharing photos of a dead body online.

"We have to do something to build that confidence. I know colleagues in the UK are doing that, we are trying extremely hard here to build that confidence.

"We're not trying to hide behind our misconduct, but we want to get that message out that we are dealing with it and we're dealing with it robustly."

The PSNI launched a Violence against Women and Girls strategy in September 2021. One theme in that centred around building trust and confidence in the police force.

"We understand that the attitudes and behaviours of our officers and staff must be of the highest standards," it reads.

Superintendent McGuigan says she is still committed to that promise.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland expects the highest standards of professionalism and integrity from all of our police officers and staff. The Chief Constable’s message is clear. Just as we will pursue perpetrators of VAWG in our communities, we are as committed to rooting out those that may be in our own ranks," she said.

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