ACC among Scottish officers suspended as part of criminal investigation

An assistant chief constable is among a number of Police Scotland officers being investigated over allegations of criminality.

Nov 24, 2017

An assistant chief constable is among a number of Police Scotland officers being investigated over allegations of criminality. The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has launched an inquiry after referring the anonymous allegations to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). After consideration, the COPFS decided that an independent investigation into the conduct of six Police Scotland officers should be carried out by the PIRC. The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) was informed in October of the allegations as they also included a complaint of misconduct against Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins. On Friday (November 24), the SPA formally referred the allegations of gross misconduct about Mr Higgins to the PIRC and suspended the officer. The PIRC said it is now carrying out an assessment to establish whether a misconduct investigation is required. Three other officers – including the force’s head of armed policing, Superintendent Kirk Kinnell, and his deputy, Chief Inspector Bob Glass – have also been suspended by Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick and two officers placed on restricted duties. Chief Insp Glass was head of Strathclyde Police`s armed response unit at the time of the 2007 terror attack on Glasgow Airport. Acting Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “I can confirm that Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins was suspended today by the Scottish Police Authority. “This is connection with an investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner. “At this time our focus must remain on continuing to meet the operational challenges that we face each day.” A spokesperson for the SPA said the decision to suspend Mr Higgins was taken after a number of criminal and misconduct allegations were brought to its attention by the PIRC. “The Authority may suspend a senior officer on the condition that an effective criminal or misconduct investigation may be prejudiced, or if the nature of the allegations would make suspension in the public interest,” they said. “Having considered the views of the PIRC, the Authority has concluded that both these conditions were satisfied and have taken the necessary steps this afternoon to suspend him from the office of constable. “The SPA has in addition today formally referred misconduct allegations relating to the senior officer to the PIRC for further investigation having assessed that, if proven, they would constitute gross misconduct.” The suspension will be reviewed in four weeks, or if there is a change in circumstances. Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has confirmed to BBC Scotland that two officers named over the weekend – Supt Kinnell and Chief Insp Glass – were under investigation. A PIRC spokesman said: “Following receipt of anonymous allegations of criminality by officers, including a senior officer, serving with Police Scotland, the Commissioner referred the allegations to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). “This was to allow the COPFS to consider whether the criminal allegations should be investigated by the Commissioner. “The COPFS decided that an independent investigation should be carried out by the PIRC and this is now underway.” Mr Higgins has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement, his spokesperson said: “He will fully cooperate with the investigation. He intends to resume his duties as soon as this matter has been resolved.” Currently responsible for operational support, custody and criminal justice, Mr Higgins has 29 years’ service having joined Strathclyde Police in 1988. He was appointed assistant chief constable of Police Scotland in January 2013. Assistant Chief Constable Nelson Telfer will take on responsibility for the operational support portfolio.

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