FAQs: Timeliness

I know that people have up to 12 months to complain about any incident, but is there a limit to how long an investigation should last and the time an officer has to endure the associated stress of an investigation

We share your concern that some investigations can take a long time. In many cases this is for reasons which are beyond the control of this Office. These might include delays waiting for forensic or medical reports to come back, or for the Public Prosecution Service to direct on a file.

Delays also arise when officers are unavailable for interview. This can be for a variety of reasons, but the net effect can be that investigations can be delayed for months because one or more officers cannot be interviewed. This obviously adds to the stress for their fellow officers and is a matter of some concern to the Police Ombudsman's Office.

Another factor which is having an impact on the length of investigations is the fact that complaints are becoming more complex. Complaints are now much more likely to include multiple allegations, such as police didn't respond to my call and failed to properly investigate a crime. This added complexity creates an additional workload for our investigators.

We have been working with the police to improve the situation and have introduced a number of measures to help speed things up. These include the electronic exchange of information between the organisations and designated single points of contact within Criminal Justice Units to deal with Police Ombudsman requests. Officers are, of course, under an obligation to supply any material required for a Police Ombudsman investigation.


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