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Senior Police Scotland officer suspended after criminal conduct investigation

A senior officer working for Police Scotland has been suspended following an investigation into criminal behaviour.

The Scottish Police Authority suspended Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins after the investigation took place. He is not the only officer to be suspended following the investigation, with three further officers having been suspended and two being placed on restricted duties.

A spokesman speaking on ACC Higgins’ behalf said that he ‘denies and rejects’ any and all allegations of wrongdoing raised against him.

ACC Higgins intends to return to his duties following the conclusion of the investigation

The suspension comes after the independent police watchdog investigated allegations which were made concerning gross misconduct and criminal conduct.

Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone released a statement in which he confirmed that ACC Higgins had been suspended. ACC Higgins was in charge of operational support, as well as custody and criminal justice.

He said: ‘I can confirm that Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins was suspended today by the Scottish Police Authority. In addition, three other officers have been suspended, and two others placed on restricted duties, by Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick. This is in connection with an investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc). At this time our focus must remain on continuing to meet the operational challenges that we face each day.’

He continued by saying that ACC Higgins’ operational support duties would be taken over by Assistant Chief Constable Nelson Telfer.

The spokesman for ACC Higgins said that he denied all wrongdoing, and intends to offer full cooperation during the investigation. The spokesman also said that as soon as the matter has been resolved, he intends to resume his duties as an officer.

The allegations are reportedly connected to a bigger criminal investigation, however, are not connected to a separate Pirc investigation into Chief Constable Phil Gormley, nor allegations against the former counter-corruption unit’s abuse of position.

ACC Higgins became a Strathclyde Police officer in 1988 where he worked as a uniformed officer in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. In 2006 he was promoted to the rank of Superintendent, then in 2010, as well as being appointed Head of the Public Protection Unit, he rose to the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent. Later in 2010, he became the Divisional Commander who was in charge of the Glasgow Central and West Division.

In March 2012 he was appointed as the Strathclyde Police Temporary Assistant Chief Constable (Territorial Policing). By January 2013 he was promoted to Assistant Chief Constable of Police Scotland. In this role, he became responsible for operational support, as well as taking on responsibility for the wider justice and support portfolio.

In September, he was appointed in his current role, which involves responsibility for criminal justice divisions, custody and operational support.

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