Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Public Accounts Committee

DUP members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused other members of engaging in a witch hunt during a hearing on police employment policies, on 28 November 2012.

An Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) report published in October 2012 revealed that in 2007, more than 800 temporary agency staff were employed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the majority of them former RUC officers who had retired with generous redundancy packages.

The committee was taking evidence from senior PSNI officials, including Chief Constable Matt Baggott, and from Grafton Recruitment.

Committee chairwoman Michaela Boyle of Sinn Fein asked why so many back-office jobs were being filled by police officers.

Michael Cox, the PSNI deputy director of Human Resources (HR), said 92.4% of police officers were in "forward-facing" roles.

Ms Boyle wanted to know why there had been no equality impact assessment carried out on temporary workers.

Joe Stewart PSNI director of HR said no other public body had carried out an equality impact assessment on temporary workers.

John Dallat of the SDLP asked Mr Stewart why he had not appeared before the committee at their previous meeting with the PSNI.

Mr Stewart said he had been on leave.

Mr Dallat commented that Mr Stewart was probably "the last remaining link" with the RUC.

Later in the session, the DUP's Adrian McQuillan said he thought Mr Dallat had "let the cat out of the bag" when he identified Mr Stewart as the remaining link between the RUC and the PSNI.

"That's what this witch hunt is all about," he added.

Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay questioned a representative of Grafton Recruitment, which supplied recruitment services to the PSNI.

Mr McKay asked Jason Kennedy, Grafton's group chief executive, whether they employed any former senior police officers.

Mr Kennedy confirmed that the company employed two former police officers, and that one of them worked on the PSNI account.

Paul Girvan of the DUP objected to some members' line of questioning regarding Grafton's internal recruitment policy.

"I would want that line of questioning to stop," he said.

Later in the session, Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin asked Mr Stewart for confirmation that the PSNI had recruited staff from Grafton.

Mr Stewart said this was the case, and detailed some examples.

Mr McLaughlin said there "may be something there that we may be interested in".

The Chief Constable offered to give the committee a confidential briefing on the matter.


Public Accounts Committee membership




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