£1.2m paid to suspended PSNI officers last year
The PSNI paid out more than £1.2 million to suspended police officers last year.
Details of the cost were revealed to the Policing Board in July.
Police last night said that 35 officers were suspended last year - down from 48 the previous year.
They also confirmed that up until May this year 21 officers had been suspended.
Police say the £1.2m suspension figure covered basic salary, allowance, pension and National Insurance payments.
In a letter to the chair of the board's performance committee, Mervyn Storey, the PSNI confirmed that the number of suspended officers “tends to be at a fairly consistent level each year, and this could reasonably be considered as an average figure for the cost to the organisation each year”.
In the correspondence, police also listed several reasons for delays in bringing misconduct proceedings to a conclusion.
These include the fitness of officers to either attend hearings/interviews or to provide instruction to their legal representatives.
In addition the progress of ongoing parallel criminal investigations is listed as a factor as well as unconnected criminal investigations by other agencies such as the Police Ombudsman.
Other reasons for delay include legal arguments by the defence and “other relevant legal developments”.
Details of the cost comes just weeks after chief constable Simon Byrne spoke of his desire to increase the number of serving officers by hundreds to 7,500.
Policing Board member Dolores Kelly raised concern about the costs last night.
“It's a considerable cost to the public purse. It (the money spent) would go a long way," she said.
“It's something we have been going after for a while.”
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said: “The cost paid to suspended officers is obviously concerning however any allegation of wrongdoing by any officer or staff member is taken extremely seriously and must be thoroughly investigated.
“This can often result in officers or staff members being suspended on full pay or repositioned pending the outcome of an investigation.
“Any decisions about the duty status of an officer who is being investigated for misconduct are taken within a regulatory framework laid down in law.”