Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins returns from suspension

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One of Scotland’s top police officers is set to return to work after a period of suspension, despite two watchdog investigations still being ongoing.

Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Bernard Higgins was stood down from his duties by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) in November after a number of allegations were made against him.

The SPA decided to lift the suspension at a meeting of the body’s complaints and conduct committee on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the watchdog said: “While independent investigatory proceedings in relation to the officer have not concluded, the committee’s decision has been informed by the views of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).”

Mr Higgins remains the subject of criminal and misconduct investigations by Pirc, one with referrals from the Crown Office and the other by SPA, but he denies the allegations made against him.

His solicitor said he is pleased to be returning to work, which is expected to be on Monday, March 19.

Callum Anderson, of Levy & MacRae, said: “ACC Higgins is pleased to return to his duties.

“He has fully co-operated with every stage of the investigation and provided a substantial body of evidence to the (Scottish Police) Authority to demonstrate that all of the anonymous unspecific allegations against him are entirely without foundation.”

A Pirc spokesman said: “The Pirc has responsibility to investigate such allegations, made by complainers, to identify whether the evidence supports or refutes the allegations made and then to report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and/or the SPA as appropriate.

“The question of suspension is a matter for the SPA and is an entirely different process from its consideration of whether or not there is a case to answer by the senior officer.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins will return to work on Monday March 19, at which time Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, the interim Chief Constable, will outline his portfolio of responsibilities.

“ACC Higgins’ return will bring greater resilience to the executive team of Police Scotland as we continue to focus on the delivery of day-to-day policing and serving the people of Scotland.”