The Police Ombudsman’s Office deals mainly with complaints about the conduct of police officers in Northern Ireland. It deals with those matters in a way which is independent and impartial and free of improper influence from the police, the government or the people who make those complaints. The Police Ombudsman is Mrs Marie Anderson.
The Conduct of Police Officers During 'The Troubles'
The law does not permit the police in Northern Ireland to investigate complaints from members of the public - that is the role of the Police Ombudsman’s Office.
The Office normally deals with complaints about matters which have happened within the previous 12 months. It can, however, consider matters from much longer ago if it believes them to be grave or exceptional. Such complaints would allege that police had been involved in murder, attempted murder as well as conspiracy and incitement to murder.
The Office’s Historical Investigations Directorate deals with many of these types of complaints which are linked to events which happened during ‘The Troubles’ (the term often used to describe the period in Northern Ireland between 1968 and the Good Friday Agreement in 1998).
It has used the term ‘historical’ to set this work apart from the Office’s work dealing with complaints about current policing.
The Historical Investigations Directorate deals with complaints from members of the public where it is alleged that members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary may have been responsible for deaths or other serious criminality.
It also deals with matters referred to it by the PSNI’s Legacy Investigation Branch where possible police criminality may have occurred during this period.
The Directorate was established in 2010 and since then has built up considerable experience in dealing with people and issues affected by events during The Troubles.
It has no legal power to investigate matters related to the conduct of the military, the security services or members of the public.