Police officers disciplined over drinking
THREE senior police officers, including the newly-appointed divisional commander for East Sussex, have been disciplined for drinking before duty at the Labour conference.
Chief Superintendent Paul Pearce, who recently took charge of the newly-formed East Sussex division which includes Rye, Battle and Hastings, has been re-assigned to Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes.
Hastings' superintendent, Ken Taylor, has also been moved - he will now report for duty at Gatwick.
Head of communications at Sussex Police, Chris Oswick, this week insisted the pair had not been 'demoted', but had been disciplined for their 'judgement and conduct during Operation Otter' - the security operation surrounding last week's Labour Party conference in Brighton.
They reported 20 minutes late for a night-shift briefing after spending part of their day drinking and had apparently behaved 'boisterously'.
The third officer involved, Chief Inspector Peter Mills, who is based at Eastbourne, was also 'advised' about his conduct but was not late for the briefing and has not been re-assigned.
Mr Oswick said: "It was felt the officers in question had not upheld the very high standards of conduct and judgement that we expect from senior officers during high-profile operations.
"They were on night shifts and working 12-hour shifts. They were late for duty and have been transferred. We are not talking about demotions."
Chief Superintendent Dick Barton, who previously worked in Hastings before being made head of operations at headquarters in Lewes, will make a return to the area as divisional commander for East Sussex in Paul Pearce's place.
An insider at Sussex Police, who did not wish to be identified, said the trio would have been sacked if they had not been well-connected senior officers.
He added it was embarrassing for Sussex Police to be ticking off commanding officers for drink-induced misconduct while cracking down on alcohol-fuelled trouble across the county.
Operation Otter involved more than 1,000 police from across Sussex in a security operation costing the force a record 3.7 million.
"It was the biggest operation of its kind ever to be held in this country.
This week, Hastings Police did not wish to comment on the disciplinary action taken against the officers and none of the three officers involved could be contacted.