Complaints against police in Down District decreasing: Police Ombudsman

Published Date: 13.10.2005

The Police Ombudsman has revealed that the number of complaints about police officers in Down District has decreased over the past three years.

Mrs Nuala O'Loan told members of Down District Policing Partnership that the number of complaints received by her office had fallen from 140 in 2002/3 to 99 last year. A total of 50 complaints have been received during the first six months of the current financial year.

Addressing DPP members during their meeting at Crossgar War Memorial Hall on Thursday night (13/10/2005), Mrs O'Loan revealed that half of all complaints in the district came from the Downpatrick area, with 20% from Newcastle, 15% from Ballynahinch and 8% from Castlewellan.

The Police Ombudsman also explained that the type of allegations made against police officers in Down District closely mirrored the wider Northern Ireland picture.
"The largest single category, accounting for 38% of all allegations in Down District and across Northern Ireland as a whole, are those alleging failure in duty by police officers. These complaints are about situations in which people feel that they have not received the service they are entitled to expect from the police," said Mrs O'Loan. "This might include allegations that police have not responded to calls, or have failed to properly investigate a crime."

The next biggest category is that of oppressive behaviour, which covers allegations of assault, intimidation or harassment. This accounts for 35% of all allegations in Down District, as well as across Northern Ireland as a whole.

"These are generally the most serious type of complaints," Mrs O'Loan told members. "While such complaints have been falling in number in recent years, the figures to date for this year show that they are on the increase again in Down District. It is important that local police commanders are aware of this to determine if there are any underlying reasons why this has been the case."

The figures presented by Mrs O'Loan also revealed that, when compared to the Northern Ireland average, a slightly higher proportion of complaints from Down District are about rudeness or incivility by police officers (15% of all allegations in Down, compared to 13% across NI).

Of the incidents complained about, 23% happened during arrests, 20% were associated with a criminal investigation, 11% with searches and 6% with traffic incidents. Twenty-one per cent of incidents happened at a police station, and 21% at domestic residences.

In addition:
- 63% of complainants in Down District were Catholic, 26% were Protestant, and 11% were of other or no religion.
- 78% were male.
- 40% of complainants were aged between 16 and 25, 51% between 26 and 45 and 9% between 46 and 65.



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