International police chiefs set for Belfast

Published Date: 28.08.2003

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens is due to join several Chief Constables from forces across Great Britain and polices chiefs from around the world for a special conference in Belfast in November to discuss issues such as police use of force and police corruption.

The conference, which has been organised by the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, will focus on Police Accountability and will look at a number of topics including identifying and managing officers at risk of corruption, public order policing, police ethics and human rights.

Other issues to be discussed include "restorative justice", "confidence in the police", and how police accountability can operate in a "counter terrorism" environment.

Heads of police complaints systems in South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong and Canada are expected to join more than 200 international delegates for the event, which will take place between November 5 - 7.

Meanwhile the governments of both Brazil and of Portugal have asked the Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O'Loan to advise them on aspects of policing.

The Brazilian invitation has come at a time when the country is dealing with ongoing violence in cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Government there is pushing forward a programme of reform and has contacted the Police Ombudsman's Office to ask for Mrs O'Loan to speak to them:

Christopher Stone, President of the Vera Institute of Justice, made the contact with the Office:

"The new President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, along with his Minster of Justice, believe that the establishment of police professionalism, effectiveness, integrity and accountability is essential. He is determined to see his reforms succeed and that is why we need the help of the Police Ombudsman's Office.

"This is a crucial moment for public safety and for police reform, not only in Brazil but also throughout Latin America. The Police Ombudsman's experiences and insights are greatly needed."

The Brazilian Government has said it plans, based on Mrs O'Loan's commitments, to bring together a 12 strong group to look at these issues later this year.

Meanwhile, Mrs O'Loan has also been asked by the Portuguese Government to join a six-person panel of experts to look at issues around the police use of force. The request was made by the country's Ministry of Interior.

Mrs O'Loan has said that the requests from the two governments and the numbers due to arrive in Belfast for the conference are a testimony to the reputation Northern Ireland now has for the way it deals with police complaints.

"Many countries having been watching our new system for police complaints and obviously are impressed with the way we handle what can be very difficult issues.

"Northern Ireland is now seen internationally as the place with the most up to date thinking on the issue of police complaints."


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