Top firearms cops suspended in crime and misconduct probe
The head of Scotland’s armed police Kirk Kinnell and his deputy Bob Glass were suspended alongside their boss Bernard Higgins on Friday.
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Superintendent Kirk Kinnell, 50, and Chief Inspector Bob Glass were suspended alongside their boss Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins on Friday afternoon.
Kinnell and Glass are said to be distraught about the allegations. A source said: “It came out of the blue.”
One other officer has been suspended and two have been placed on restricted duties over the matter.
Anonymous allegations of criminal conduct and gross misconduct are being investigated by the independent police watchdog Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).
The Sunday Mail understands one of the allegations is that a domestic violence complaint against an officer was suppressed.
One source said: “These are the three top people responsible for that unit and they are three of the highest profile officers in the country. There have been lots of rumours flying around and everyone is pretty shocked.”
Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and PIRC yesterday all declined to say what the anonymous complaints were that were made against Higgins and the other officers.
And the Scottish Police Federation slammed the decision as “unwarranted”.
Chief Superintendent Ivor Marshall, president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, said: “We are aware one of our members has been suspended.
“As is normal, we will be giving him any support and help he requires.”
Kinnell, whose official title is head of armed policing and hostage crisis negotiation, is due to retire next month after 30 years’ service and was understood to be on annual leave when told of his suspension.
Both he and Glass are said to be distraught about the allegations.
A source said: ”They are in shock. This came completely out of the blue.
“Kirk was due to retire next month and had effectively cleared his desk.
“He was just taking holiday time due to him until his retirement date.”
The decision to suspend Higgins was taken by the SPA board after they were alerted to the criminal and misconduct allegations by PIRC.
The SPA said the suspension would be reviewed in four weeks or if there is a change in circumstances.
PIRC said they initially referred the anonymous allegations to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, as they are responsible for the prosecution of crime.
The Crown Office decided an independent probe should be carried out by the PIRC which is now under way.
As the complaint also included allegations of misconduct by a senior officer, the PIRC referred the case to the SPA on October 18.
The SPA suspended Higgins on Friday and referred the allegations of gross misconduct to the PIRC.
Kinnell and Glass were suspended by Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick.
Higgins put out a statement on Friday through his solicitor rejecting allegations of wrongdoing and saying he would cooperate fully.
He was responsible for operational support, custody and criminal justice, which included firearms and counter terrorism. Both Kinnell and Glass reported to him on a daily basis.
The new complaints are not linked to the separate PIRC investigations into allegations of misconduct against Chief Constable Phil Gormley who is currently on “special leave”.
Nor are they connected to inquiries into allegations that officers in the former counter-corruption unit abused their position when attempting to find the source of a journalist’s information.
Kinnell is one of Britain’s leading experts on hostage negotiation and has lectured in the USA, Sweden, Dubai, Japan and the Philippines.
He has a degree in policing studies from the University of Strathclyde and is also an expert in emergency planning.
Glass was head of Strathclyde Police’s armed response unit at the time of the 2007 terror attack on Glasgow airport.
He and his unit were ordered to sweep a house in Houston, Renfrewshire, which Bilal Abdulla and Kafeel Ahmed had been using as a makeshift bomb factory. At the time it was feared that the pair – who had botched a car bomb bid in London just a day earlier – had rigged the property with explosives.
In a 2012 interview, he said: “We were dealing with ruthless terrorists and everyone in the team was well aware of what could happen – they could lose their lives. But we are highly trained to deal with these situations. We knew exactly what had to be done.”
His team – who carried out other raids following the bombing – entered the house safely and found a staggering cache of bomb-making equipment.
Higgins joined Strathclyde Police in 1988 and served in Lanarkshire and Glasgow. He became a superintendent in 2006 and was then promoted to detective chief superintendent and head of the public protection unit in 2010.
He was made divisional commander for Glasgow Central and West later that year and in 2013, he became assistant chief constable of Police Scotland.
The Scottish Police Federation yesterday slammed the suspension of the four officers.
The SPF, who represent two of those suspended, including Glass, said they believed the action was unwarranted.
A spokesman said: “It is important to remember this involves a handful of officers in a service of over 17,000. While it is difficult to talk about specifics due to an ongoing investigation, the information we have suggests the suspension of our members and others is unwarranted.
“Our members rightly ask what it is that allows some to be granted leave while under investigation but for that same opportunity not to be extended to them.”
Higgins would be eligible for retirement next year after 30 years’ service.
A PIRC spokesman said: “Following receipt of anonymous allegations of criminality by officers – including a senior officer – serving with Police Scotland, the Commissioner referred the allegations to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
“The COPFS decided an independent investigation should be carried out by the PIRC and this is now under way.”