Published Date: 17.07.2012
Northern Ireland's new Police Ombudsman has given a commitment that his investigations will be carried out in an independent manner, which will be free from police, governmental or any sectional community interest.
Dr Michael Maguire was speaking as he begins his first week as head of the police complaints system.
He said that during his time as Police Ombudsman he will ensure the handling of complaints about the conduct of police officers will be carried out in a totally independent manner and to the highest of standards.
"The police complaints system must be wholly independent if it is to have the confidence of the public and the police.
While we will listen to the views of others on improvements to the service we provide to the community, no one should be in any doubt that the decisions and conclusions reached in individual complaints will be a matter for my Office and my Office alone," he said.
Dr Maguire's comments come after a difficult year for the Police Ombudsman's Office which saw concerns raised about aspects of how it conducted its 'historical' investigations.
Good progress with new policies and procedures.
"The main problems identified by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate related to the 'historical' investigations alone and were largely failures in processes and systems. For most of the last year the staff have been putting in place new policies and procedures. Good progress has been made and an important priority will be to commence once again investigations into "historical" cases and to ensure that the quality of those investigations is as good as it can be.
We will also look at how cases are prioritised and the ways in which the Office engages with the police, families and their representatives. " said Dr Maguire.
The Police Ombudsman's Office receives more than 3,000 complaints each year about 'current' policing and the conduct of police officers.
As well as handling those individual complaints, it regularly identifies issues with policing policy and procedures and makes recommendations for their improvement to the PSNI.
"Looking to the future, I would like to see a greater focus on following up on the recommendations and identifying their impact on operational policing for the benefit of the community," said Dr Maguire
Dr Maguire spent his first day in post being briefed on key issues and meeting his staff.
"I have been impressed by their personal commitment to the work. Together we will deliver a high quality, independent and impartial police complaints service," he said.