Police Scotland ACC Bernard Higgins back at work as probe goes on

By Reevel Alderson
Home affairs correspondent, BBC Scotland

image captionACC Higgins has denied the allegations

One of Scotland's most high-profile police officers is back at work after more than three months' suspension.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernie Higgins headed the firearms unit and responses to major incidents.

In a shake-up of the senior management team, he has been moved to lead local policing in the west of Scotland

Investigations into these claims, which included claims of unauthorised use of the police firing range at Jackton near East Kilbride, and involved three other officers, have been carried out by the independent Police Investigation and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

ACC Higgins has denied any wrong-doing and has described the allegations, which were made anonymously, as vexatious. He also said they had previously been investigated by a deputy chief constable.

While the Pirc investigation remains under way, ACC Higgins' suspension was lifted by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) which oversees the national force.

Team reshuffle

Announcing the reshuffle of his executive team, interim Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said ACC Higgins' responsibilities would be taken by ACC Mark Williams.

He will also oversee the operational elements of the integration of British Transport Police into Police Scotland.

Mr Livingstone said: "This reshuffle of portfolios represents an opportunity for some fresh approaches to dealing with the challenges we face in keeping Scotland safe.

"ACC Higgins is the only member of the executive who has, until now, retained the original portfolio he had at the creation of Police Scotland five years ago.

"He has significant experience and a high profile in local policing, particularly in the west of Scotland. This move will provide him with a fresh challenge as he takes on responsibility for the policing of our most populous local policing area."

His suspension came at a difficult time for Police Scotland with a number of accusations of bullying behaviour against chief constable Phil Gormley who resigned last month.

The SPA will set out its plans to appoint a replacement for Mr Gormley, but it is likely to be later this year before a new chief constable is in place.

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