Published Date: 28.06.2005
The Police Ombudsman, Mrs Nuala O'Loan, has told members of Dungannon and South Tyrone District Policing Partnership that there has been a reduction in the number of "more serious" complaints being made against police officers in the district.
Mrs O'Loan told members of the DPP at their meeting on Tuesday night (28 June 2005) that while the total number of complaints in the district had remained "fairly steady" in recent years, there had been a change in the type of complaints being received by her office.
She revealed that allegations of "oppressive behaviour" - which includes complaints of assault, harassment and unlawful detention - had fallen from almost 50% of all allegations in the district in 2001/2, to 31% in 2004/5.
Meanwhile, allegations falling into the generally less serious category of "failures in duty" - which includes allegations that police failed to respond to calls, or failed to properly investigate crimes - have risen from 23% of allegations in 2001/2 to 39% last year.
"These figures are encouraging in that they reflect the trend we are seeing across Northern Ireland, which is towards a reduction in complaints about oppressive behaviour and use of force by police officers," said Mrs O'Loan.
"A consequence of this is that we see a greater proportion of allegations that police officers have not properly conducted the duties required of them. I think this reflects a greater expectation among members of the public about the service they receive from the police."
A further 16% of allegations concerned incivility or rudeness by police officers, which is slightly higher than the Northern Ireland average, said Mrs O'Loan.
In total, some 257 complaints have been made against police officers in the district since the Police Ombudsman's Office opened in November 2000 - 69 in 2001/2, 42 in 2002/3, 70 in 2003/4 and 66 last year.
Sixty-nine per cent of the incidents complained about happened in the area covered by Dungannon PSNI station, compared to 11% from Coalisland, 8% from Clogher, 4% from Fivemiletown, and 8% from elsewhere in the district.
Mrs O'Loan also told members that complainants tended to be much younger in Dungannon and South Tyrone than across Northern Ireland as a whole. "Fifty-four per cent of complainants in Dungannon and South Tyrone are aged between 16 and 25, whereas across Northern Ireland this age group accounts for just 26% of all complainants," said Mrs O'Loan.
"In addition, just 7% of complainants in Dungannon and South Tyrone are aged more than 45, compared to 24% across Northern Ireland."
Other statistics presented to DPP members by the Police Ombudsman included:
- Some 49% of complainants in Dungannon and South Tyrone were Catholic, 40% were Protestant, 6% of other religions and 5% stated that they had no religion
- 78% of complainants were male
- 23% of allegations related to arrests made by police officers, 16% to police criminal investigations, 11% to police search operations, and 9% to traffic incidents
- 35% of incidents are alleged to have occurred on a street or road, 16% at a domestic residence, 15% at a police station, 3% at a checkpoint and 3% in a police vehicle.