Police breaches at nuclear stations ‘like the Simpsons’

Torness Nuclear Power Station, near Dunbar, in Scotland, one of 11 such stations in the UK. Picture: PA
Torness Nuclear Power Station, near Dunbar, in Scotland, one of 11 such stations in the UK. Picture: PA
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A POLICE officer disciplined for using eBay has emerged as one of 51 disciplinary breaches across 11 nuclear power stations in Britain.

The incidents all occured in the past three years and were tracked by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), the police force that guards the UK’s atomic power plants.

The Simpsons is supposed to be a comedy, not a fly-on-the-wall documentary

Jonathan Isaby, Taxpayers Alliance

Another officer fell asleep on duty while yet another mishandled a firearm – incidents described by critics as “like something out of The Simpsons”.

The breaches occurred since January 2013 at 11 civil nuclear sites across England, Scotland and Wales, although the data does not reveal the location of each incident.

In 2013, a sergeant was given “words of advice” after engaging in “inappropriate eBay activity” in an incident described as discreditable conduct.

The same year a constable was given a final written warning for “breaching their duties and responsibilities” by sleeping on duty at a UK nuclear power station.

Last year a constable was disciplined after lying “regards loss of equipment”.

Among eight incidents so far this year, a sergeant is being investigated for an “unauthorised absence of duty”.

Other cases include a constable who resigned while under investigation for inappropriate use of social media.

One of the most serious breaches include a constable who in 2013 for “dangerous handling of firearm”, resulting in them resigning during the investigation.

A total of five members of staff were disciplined for improper care of equipment, and another was given a final written warning for failure in firearms handling.

Worryingly, two constables and a sergeant were also convicted of criminal offences whilst employed by the CNC.

Of the 51 alleged breaches, 8 were found to have no case to answer.

Six members of staff were given a written warning, two were dismissed and five resigned during the investigation process.

A further 15 were given words of advice from management, one person awaits trial and five of the investigations are ongoing.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive at the Taxpayers Alliance, slammed the figures and likened the members of staff to Homer Simpson.

“The Simpsons is supposed to be a comedy, not a fly-on-the-wall documentary,” he said.

“Taxpayers will be astounded to know that it isn’t just Homer who falls asleep at his desk.

“On a more serious note, the CNC has an important job ensuring that nuclear energy remains as safe as possible, and that means the authorities have to be on the ball when it comes to health and safety breaches and do everything they can to reduce the number of incidents.”

The nuclear sites across the UK include Torness nuclear power station roughly 30 miles east of Edinburgh. It is home to two nuclear reactors which provide electricity for 2 million homes.

It also includes a station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, which houses two advanced gas-cooled reactors which have been generating electricity since 1976.

The CNC has 1,400 police officers and staff who, in their own words, “contribute to the overall framework of national security”. The CNC says it key roles are protect civil nuclear sites and to safeguard nuclear material in transit.