The Police Ombudsman’s Office has limited resources for this work and has to carefully prioritise the investigations it has to carry out. After consulting with the public and the police, it has developed a policy to help achieve a fair and equitable approach when deciding the order in which to carry out those investigations.
In the first instance it considers whether the alleged criminality in question represents an ongoing and immediate threat to life or threat of serious injury or damage to property.
If no such threat exists, it then considers the nature of the alleged police behaviour to establish if there is a direct causal link between police action and a death (such as the firing of a police weapon.)
It considers in detail the gravity of the alleged offence and whether it represents possible criminal behaviour or police misconduct. Alleged murder or criminal conspiracy would demand more immediate consideration than alleged police misconduct, for example.
It also considers whether there are related criminal or inquest proceedings.
Once these issues have been considered, it may also take into account other factors such as if there has been a proven miscarriage of justice, or the age or infirmity of immediate relatives of the deceased.