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Critical report into investigation of misconduct at Burghfield nuclear site

Report says that investigation was not carried out properly

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Contact:

01635 886633

Police misconduct at nuclear site in Burghfield

A review has strongly criticised an investigation into security lapses at Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield.

The restricted report, made available via a freedom of information request, was commissioned in the wake of an investigation to address allegations that MoD police officers were sleeping on the job and failing to conduct routine patrols in 2013.

Operation Pease was set up to investigate the incident at Burghfield, where Britain's nuclear weapons are assembled, with the MoD claiming at the time that the security of the site had not been compromised.

But the new report reveals that MoD police deemed the security lapses as critical.

The report reveals that officers under investigation at the site were placed on duties away from Burghfield, meaning that officers had to be drafted in from elsewhere to provide cover.

A total of 66 officers were investigated, with six dismissed for gross misconduct, and a further 25 resigned, while attended a misconduct meeting and six had no further action taken.  

The report, carried out by Len Jackson, an independent member of the MoD Police Committee, was highly critical of the investigation.

It says that Operation Pease took more than two years to conclude and had left "a huge feeling of resentment" within the MoD police. 

Concerns were raised that no one above the rank of sergeant had been disciplined over the misconduct.

And, while the site management team were "potentially under investigation", AWE's head of nuclear and physical security felt that the investigation had focused on “the low-hanging fruit” rather than addressing the root cause of the problems.

Officers investigated also claimed they had been threatened with a fast-track process known as special case procedures, which they believed would trigger mass resignations in order to avoid tribunals.

A lack of supervision over a number of years in the building at the centre of the misconduct allegations was also highlighted.

See the next edition of the Newbury Weekly News for more on this story.

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