Northern Ireland’s police chief has been accused of a stunning misjudgment over a late-night tweet suggesting officers overwhelmed by the job should “dry your eyes” or “move on”.
Chief Constable George Hamilton was responding to an anonymous person on Twitter shortly after midnight on Sunday as he posted a light-hearted appeal for new recruits.
One Twitter user, apparently a police officer who says he lives with depression and pain, responded that police were expected to be social workers, paramedics and child minders as well.
“I know - more complex & challenging but we are here to serve so let’s get on with it rather than wallowing in self pity!” said a response posted on Mr Hamilton’s verified Twitter account.
When the man denied he was wallowing in self pity, Mr Hamilton’s account replied: “well you’re allowed to leave & seek another job - nobody is asking you to stay.
“Dry your eyes, do the job or move on!”
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents more than 10,000 rank and file PSNI officers, demanded an apology for what they described as “offensive comments” from Mr Hamilton.
“The pressures our officers endure are nothing short of monstrous,” said Mark Lindsay, chairman of the Federation.
“The Chief Constable knows the extent of the problem - we have highlighted it often enough - which makes his remarks all the more bewildering.
“It shows how out of touch he is with his own officers and that is deeply disappointing.”
Mr Lindsay said officers are grappling with psychological conditions because of the appalling things they have to experience and witness in the line of duty.
“To cap it all, we have a chief constable who tells the men and women he commands that if they don’t like it, they can leave and get another job,” he added.
“Mr Hamilton has got this badly wrong.
“To say to officers to ‘dry your eyes, do the job or move on’ amounts to great insult and a stunning misjudgment.
“He should apologise immediately for this outburst, withdraw the offensive comments and remove the tweet from his account.”
A PSNI spokesman said there was no immediate response from the chief constable to the Police Federation’s calls for an apology.
Mr Hamilton’s remarks also drew a fierce response from other users on Twitter.
The Chief Constable had posted an advertisement from 1839 calling for recruits to Sir Robert Peel’s Metropolitan Police.
He said: “Think about career in policing - we want citizens to serve from ALL backgrounds. Terms & Conditions have improved.”