Northern Ireland

Matt Baggott facing police rehiring questions

chief constable matt baggott
Image caption Chief Constable Matt Baggott is to appear before assembly members

Northern Ireland's chief constable will be questioned later about an Audit Office investigation into the PSNI's recruitment of temporary staff.

The Audit Office report said nearly one in five former RUC officers who had retired with generous Patten redundancy payments had been rehired by the PSNI.

Matt Baggott is due to appear before the Public Accounts Committee at Stormont.

Last week Mr Baggott said he regretted how the police had handled the issue.

Last week's Audit Office report described the PSNI policy for recruiting temporary staff as "at one point out of control".

It said the way the process was managed had not always met the high standards of governance and accountability expected of public sector bodies.

The report revealed that more than 1,000 police officers who had left with large pay-offs had been rehired - with more than 250 of them back within three months.

It also revealed that in 2004, a £44m contract to employ temporary staff had been awarded to a local company with no competitive tendering process.

Members of the PAC are expected to ask the chief constable who was responsible for the policy, and what action, if any, will be taken against them.

About 5,500 RUC officers were paid off under the Patten redundancy scheme - it was the most generous redundancy package in the world.

Under the Patten policing reforms, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was replaced in 2001 by the PSNI as part of measures to attract more Catholic recruits and make the police more representative of Northern Ireland's population.

Catholics now make up about 30% of PSNI officers.

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