Published Date: 03.12.2012
The number of complaints made by members of the public about police officers in H District – which covers an area including Coleraine, Ballymena, Larne, Ballymoney and Moyle – has fallen by more than 20 % in the last two years.
That was one of the pieces of information which was given by the Police Ombudsman’s Office at a training day in Coleraine for members of the local Police and Community Safety Partnerships.
The new Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, attended the meeting to explain his vision for the police complaints system.
He told those present that the importance of the work they do in the local Policing and Community Safety Partnerships, along with the work of the Policing Board and his own Office cannot be over estimated in holding police to account.
“When I was appointed Police Ombudsman I gave a commitment that under my leadership the handling of complaints will be carried out to the highest of standards and in a manner which is free from police, government or any sectional community interest,” he said
Dr Maguire said his Office had in recent weeks publicly reported the findings of investigations into matters of current policing and would be reporting on similar matters in the New Year.
He also spoke about the work of his Office in dealing with the investigation of events which happened during ‘The Troubles,’ which he described as difficult. He gave a commitment that at the end of such investigations his Office would provide reports which would give as clear an understanding as possible of the events under investigation, given the evidence available.
He warned, however that what he called a new realism and dialogue was needed in discussing some of the sensitive and difficulty issues involved.
In conclusion, Dr Maguire. outlined the service local people could expect from his Office:
“They can expect and should receive the results of a robust and quality investigation undertaken by people who know what they are doing and have exhausted all proportionate attempts to get answers. That investigation will be independent and free from interference from all sides. They can also expect and should receive a professional service in how the Office deals with their complaints and communicates within them as the work unfolds.
What I cannot promise is that everyone will like the final conclusions and recommendations in each of our investigations – that is one of the down sides of independent investigation,” he said.
Dr Maguire’s staff provided the meeting with a detailed breakdown of statistics about the number of complaints which the Office has received from the area.
It was told that complaints in H District had fallen by 21% between the years 2009/10 – 20011/12, which compared with a reduction of 7% in Northern Ireland as a whole.
The meeting also heard that so far this business year 80 complaints have been made by police officers in Coleraine, 39 complaints have been received about officers in Ballymena, 28 complaints about police in Larne and 14 complaints about police officers in the Ballymoney/Moyle areas.