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PSNI officer investigated over ‘Hoovergate’ incident


A senior PSNI officer is being investigated for gross misconduct over the alleged theft of a vacuum cleaner, it has emerged.

It was revealed in correspondence to TUV leader Jim Allister by Deputy Chief Constable Chris Todd who confirmed that it was a “live investigation” and has described it as “Hoovergate”.

Mr Allister had claimed that the vacuum cleaner had been allegedly taken around Christmas 2020 and was reported missing by cleaning staff on 6 January 2021.

He further claimed that the senior officer was recorded on CCTV returning the device after its disappearance became public knowledge in the workplace.

Mr Allister raised the case to illustrate what he said were differences in how senior officers and more junior ranks are treated when it comes to disciplinary matters.

“Is it correct that this senior officer continues to serve with enhanced security clearance, despite admitting taking and retaining the vacuum cleaner,” he wrote in a letter seeking clarification.

“How does this compare with how junior officers are treated?”

Mr Todd said he was unable to comment on the “specific circumstances” of the case.

“I can advise however that, as in all cases of alleged gross misconduct, the officer’s duty and vetting status has been considered and is kept under review.”

Mr Allister said he was routinely contacted by officers of lower ranks complaining about a disparity in treatment when it came to discipline.

He said an air of “secrecy” around how senior officers were dealt with was compounding the problem and was adding to “low morale” in the ranks.

He asked how many officers above the rank of Chief Inspector had been disciplined and asked whether it was correct that no officer above that rank had been disciplined for misconduct in the five years to the end of 2022.

Mr Todd said since 1 January 2023 two officers of Chief Inspector rank or above had been subject to gross misconduct proceedings and had been sanctioned.

He added that nine officers of Chief Inspector rank or above were currently subject to formal investigation with six repositioned to alternative duties.

All officers up to the rank of Chief Superintendent are subject to the PSNI code of ethics.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board is responsible for any discipline issues relating to Assistant Chief Constables, the Deputy Chief Constable or the Chief Constable.


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