Police officer on duty to face misconduct proceedings judge judge
A serving PSNI officer who has not revealed he made unauthorized payments to himself in previous employment faces misconduct charges, a High Court judge has heard.
The officer, who also failed to receive a gross misconduct warning from another former employer, claimed he was not competent to deal with a misrepresentation charge.
But Judge Colton ruled that a coercively appointed panel had the right to examine allegations related to a questionnaire completed during the application process to join the PSNI.
He said: ‘It can be argued that a police officer cannot remain silent when he knows full well that he entered the profession on the basis of a uttered lie, because to do so was to maintain an active lie and continued.
“The PSNI has jurisdiction to decide whether there was indeed such a lie and whether it was a fault.”
The officer, who is not named for security reasons, trained and graduated as a constable in 2017.
But it later emerged he had not disclosed details of two previous part-time sales assistant jobs when he completed a security and counter-terrorism screening questionnaire in 2016.
In one role, at a Matalan store in Craigavon, he was subject to disciplinary proceedings which resulted in a verbal warning for gross misconduct.
The officer then worked in a men’s clothing store in Portadown where he made 10 unauthorized payments to himself totaling £1,675.
He then took out a £2,000 loan to repay that employer.
Last year, police set up a panel to deal with a charge of misrepresentation under the PSNI (conduct) Regulations 2016.
Although he was not a constable when he signed the questionnaire, it is alleged that he never sought to correct the information and that he breached the code of ethics.
Lawyers for the officer challenged the judicial review after the committee refused to stay proceedings on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to deal with a charge that predated his attestation to the police department.
The alleged misconduct occurred more than 12 months before he became a PSNI member and subject to the Settlement, it has been argued.
However, Justice Colton said: “The content of the questionnaire is unambiguous as to the importance of full and accurate disclosure and the potential implications of such failure.
“The declaration is clearly an integral and fundamental part of the process by which the applicant was finally appointed to the public service of a police officer.
Dismissing the officer’s challenge, the judge identified an ongoing duty to disclose the information.
“The 2016 regulations allow prosecution for alleged pre-certification misconduct by an on-duty police officer,” he said.
Judge Colton also pointed out: “The fact that the committee has jurisdiction to consider this complaint is of course not determinative of the complaint.
“The panel will be entitled to consider when the alleged misconduct occurred, the reasons for any alleged misconduct, the general circumstances in which the alleged misconduct took place, whether it relates to the profession of policeman and ultimately whether it amounts to misconduct. .”