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Anti-terrorist nuclear officer at Dounreay under Covid-19 probe

Dounreay atomic plant in Caithness.
Dounreay atomic plant in Caithness.

Britain’s nuclear police force is investigating amid claims one of their employees breached Covid-19 rules.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) is the armed police force which protects nuclear sites and materials across the country.

The CNC officer involved faces “robust disciplinary procedures” if he is found to have contravened the guidance, understood to be about people visiting houses.

A CNC spokesman said: “We can confirm that an internal investigation is taking place to determine whether a CNC officer has breached any local coronavirus restrictions.

“We expect high standards of conduct and behaviour from our officers and staff, and this includes adhering to local and national coronavirus restrictions.

“Any officer or member of staff who is found to have breached these high standards will be subject to the robust disciplinary procedures we have in place.

“As this matter is currently still under investigation it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

The CNC has around 1,500 officers and staff – and Dounreay is their second biggest site after Sellafield.

It is alleged the officer, a staff member who is part of the security team protecting the nuclear site in Caithness, contravened Covid-19 guidance by being involved in a gathering at a house.

It is not thought he or she contracted Covid-19 as a result.

Caithness councillor Stuan Mackie said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the CNC have continued to be ever-present in the community, carrying out their vital role in providing security for the site as essential personnel.

“Given the importance of that site security and safety, it would not be appropriate to speculate on this matter on behalf of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group… but I fully expect that the CNC will investigate this matter and take appropriate action at the conclusion of their investigation.”

His council colleague Matthew Reiss added: “This is an internal matter for the CNC. The police operate a genuinely robust disciplinary process and for good reason.

“I am certain any investigation will be swift and thorough and, importantly, fair.

“There are tried and tested procedures for ensuring staffing levels to cover all eventualities”.

The CNC is responsible for the armed protection of civil nuclear facilities and materials whether they are on site or in transit – and counter-terrorism is a major part of their policing.

Its mission statement says: “In partnership with the civil nuclear industry, national security agencies and regulatory bodies the CNC will deter any attacker whose intent is the theft or sabotage of nuclear material whether static or in transit.

“If an attack occurs CNC will defend that material and deny access to it. If material is seized or high consequence facilities compromised the CNC will recover control of the facility and regain custody of the material.”

The Caithness site is currently in the process of being decommissioned.

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