Po­lice chief con­demns un­der­cover of­fi­cers who burnt pa­pers

Scottish Daily Mail - - Life - By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Edi­tor

‘Mark­ing own homework’

SCOT­LAND’S po­lice chief has con­demned ‘de­plorable’ un­der­cover of­fi­cers who burned doc­u­ments in a gar­den incin­er­a­tor.

Chief Con­sta­ble Iain Liv­ing­stone said it was be­lieved phone bills and bank state­ments may have been among the ma­te­rial that was de­stroyed.

He said no one was pros­e­cuted and two of­fi­cers faced mis­con­duct pro­ceed­ings be­fore the unit was shut down.

Mr Liv­ing­stone said there may have been a mis­taken per­cep­tion that the depart­ment saw it­self as ‘elite’, mean­ing it be­lieved it could break rules. His con­dem­na­tion came as mem­bers of the Scot­tish Po­lice Author­ity (SPA) voiced con­cern yes­ter­day that a public re­port by Po­lice Scot­land on the af­fair had missed out key informatio­n.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is a ‘civil­ian over­sight’ body for the sin­gle force, de­manded an­other re­port.

Ear­lier this year, Mr Liv­ing­stone said he was ‘shocked’ by claims un­der­cover of­fi­cers at the nowde­funct Scot­tish Crime and Drug En­force­ment Agency (SCDEA) had been told to de­stroy doc­u­ments, amid a probe into its fi­nances.

The con­tro­versy be­gan af­ter it emerged in a Court of Ses­sion judg­ment in Fe­bru­ary that an SCDEA whistle­blower had al­leged she was or­dered to buy a gar­den incin­er­a­tor and petrol to dis­pose of pa­per­work in 2011. The woman claimed re­tired detectives work­ing for the or­gan­i­sa­tion said: ‘This is like [po­lice TV se­ries] Life on Mars.’

In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers were said to have been told to burn doc­u­ments on waste­land but af­ter uni­formed col­leagues ar­rived, they were told to do so in a yard at the SCDEA’s HQ.

At an SPA meet­ing yes­ter­day, Mr Liv­ing­stone said he be­lieved Po­lice Scot­land’s own in­ter­nal in­quiry, backed up by an­other in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Metropoli­tan Po­lice, had es­tab­lished that the con­tro­versy was ‘ad­dressed’ at the time.

He said he was sat­is­fied that present-day un­der­cover polic­ing was free of the bad prac­tice iden­ti­fied at the SCDEA.

Con­demn­ing the in­cin­er­a­tion, Mr Liv­ing­stone said it was ‘de­plorable, out­ra­geous behaviour’ that would not be tol­er­ated today.

He said some of the un­der­cover of­fi­cers may have seen them­selves as ‘some kind of elite unit’.

SPA board mem­ber Tom Halpin said the fact no one had faced for­mal con­duct pro­ceed­ings was ‘of con­cern’, adding: ‘Some think you are mark­ing your own homework.’

The Met re­port, pub­lished last week, sug­gested that un­der­cover po­lice who burned pa­per­work may have been part of a cover-up.

The SCDEA Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards Unit in­ves­ti­gated the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Unit af­ter al­le­ga­tions its fi­nances were a ‘sham­bles’.

Two of­fi­cers – known as A and C – were found to have acted im­prop­erly, though the Crown Of­fice found no ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal­ity. One re­tired with ill health and the other re­ceived ‘man­age­ment ad­vice’.

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