Northern Ireland

PSNI defends penalties after officers fail drug tests

Cocaine, bank note and razor
Image caption Cocaine and cannabis were detected during the drugs tests

A senior policeman has said the PSNI was not lenient in its punishment of four officers who took cocaine and cannabis.

Three police officers have resigned after failing drug tests. A fourth was fined after his case was overturned on appeal.

The three officers who resigned did so before the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings.

Detective Chief Supt George Clarke said the PSNI was not going "soft".

"Remember the outcome for these people, they have lost a job, a career, we are not going soft," he added.

"We are determined to deal with this.

"We deal with it robustly and we deal with it professionally."

In a statement, the PSNI said the public "rightly expects" that it "is a drug-free organisation".

"The Police Service has introduced measures to prevent substance misuse by police personnel through the provision of education and support programmes and the introduction of a compulsory drug-testing regime," the statement added.

"Whilst we are confident that the vast majority of our officers are not involved in any kind of substance misuse, we have a responsibility to ensure we deal robustly with any officer who supplies or uses illegal drugs."

DUP Policing Board member, Jimmy Spratt, said that if police officers were found to have been involved in the misuse of drugs they should expect to be "robustly dealt with".

"I think very clearly if something criminal has happened then whether it is a police officer or not, I would expect that to be reported to the Public Prosecution Service and for them to decide whether it was necessary to proceed with criminal proceedings," he added.

The PSNI said the four police officers had been detected as the result of intelligence measures.

All of the officers were suspended pending the outcome of formal misconduct proceedings.

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