By Patricia Devlin
COOKSTOWN PSNI Inspector Hazel Moucka has moved to reassure the public over the alleged misconduct of seven police officers based in the town.
On Saturday it was announced that two PSNI officers had been suspended after an investigation by the PSNI’s anti-corruption unit. Another five officers, believed to be constables, have been relocated pending an investigation into the allegations.
The MAIL understands that action was taken by the PSNI in the middle of last week after misconduct accusations arose involving a small team of sergeants and constables. Two officers were arrested and bailed, before being suspended, while the rest of the team were immediately relocated.
Speaking to the Mid-Ulster Mail this week, Inspector Moucka, who heads up the area’s rural and neighbourhood policing teams, said that the action taken would not impact on policing in the council area.
She also said that work was being done to “support” remaining PSNI staff based at the PSNI station, and revealed that other F District stations would be supporting Cookstown to “fill in the gap” left by those embroiled in the accusations.
“Firstly we want to reassure the public in Cookstown that it is business as usual and the commitment of both myself and the officers that are still here and of the district to provide a professional service. The business goes on,” she said.
“For me personally it is also about encouraging and supporting the officers that are still here, while that’s ongoing to provide that service.
“They have been doing extremely well, the figures are very good in Cookstown. We have the highest crime clearance rate in this service, never mind this district. They are a great bunch of girls and guys.”
All seven police officers are now under investigation by PSNI’s Service Improvement Department.
Although the nature of the allegations has not been revealed, it has been classed as “serious”.
“Suffice to say there are sergeants and constables involved. It (the investigation) has only been ongoing over the last number of working days.
Inspector Moucka continued: “It’s more important for me that we are keeping our house in order and if there is any misconduct, that it is being investigated.
“We expect staff to behave professionally, ethically and with the utmost integrity in everything that they do, both on and off duty, and anything that they do that is likely to bring discredit on the police service will be investigated whether or not there has been a breach, but I can’t say (what the nature is), I don’t know.”
“It wouldn’t be fair on them or more importantly the rest of the police staff that are here to comment. They are entitled to everything that, as with any investigation, to discuss it. It wouldn’t be fair on the investigation either.”
The rural and neighbourhood team inspector added that although the officers have not been replaced, work that had been undertaken by those involved had been reallocated.
“It sounds a lot, but if you look at the number of police officers across F District, it is a small number. The district is managing it very well, the work that they had been doing or would have been done has been reallocated and rejigged. It’s not as if it won’t be done, it will be. “