News that 20 per cent of RUC officers who took handsome redundancy packages were later rehired on temporary contracts by the PSNI has been slammed by local politicians and victims’ groups.
The officers had retired under the most generous redundancy scheme in the world offered as part of the Patten reforms of policing.
Yesterday the Audit Office said that almost one-in-five of those officers had returned to work with the police.
Sinn Fein’s policing spokesman Gerry Kelly said it was “clearly an old boys’ club”. The North Belfast MLA said: “This is D-day for the Chief Constable. I certainly hope he is not going to come out and try to defend this, especially when these facts are uncontested. What we need to know is what is going to be done to rectify this?”
Mark Sykes from Relatives For Justice said as far back as April 2007 RFJ have been raising the matter and had received unsatifactory answers.
“It became known that our Director’s details were provided to the UVF by a civilian employee within the PSNI,” he said.
“At the time RFJ asked for the Police Ombudsman to be called in to investigate this matter only to be told that these civilian staff were not accountable to the Police Ombudsman and thus were effectively operating within a vacuum of accountability. RFJ then asked the then Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, to facilitate a Police Ombudsman investigation to satisfy those whose details were provided – some 117 people – in order to demonstrate public confidence concerning the role of civilian employees. This was refused.
“This latest figure in the Audit Office report is particularly concerning given that a number of former Special Branch officers have been rehired as civilian employees within the intelligence section of the PSNI including having key responsibilities for legacy issues pertaining to collusion and shoot-to-kill which implicate the RUC.”
Mark added: “There are numerous former RUC officers who refuse to cooperate with the Police Ombudsman or with any legacy inquiries. RFJ are now publicly asking, how many of these officers who refused to cooperate have been rehired?
“Victims of collusion and state violence campaigning for truth find this situation incredible given that these same officers spent their careers asking the public to cooperate with their inquiries.
“Apart from the appalling abuse of public money this entire situation is totally unacceptable.”