Published Date: Jun 2015
The Police Ombudsman’s Office had more than 3300 complaints and other matters referred to it last year, a drop of 10% on the previous year.
On 380 occasions the Office recommended that PSNI officers/staff be disciplined, which was an increase of 150 on the previous year.
It also made more than 60 recommendations during the period for change to PSNI policy or procedures in areas such as the safety of police custody suites, the use of police vehicles and the policing of public unrest.
These figures are contained in the Office’s latest Annual Statistical Bulletin, which covers the period from April 2014 to March 2015. The Bulletin is compiled independently by Northern Ireland Research Agency staff seconded to Office and who work alongside Police Ombudsman personnel.
The Police Ombudsman Chief Executive Adrian McAllister said that there is more to the Office than dealing with individual complaints:
“We are in a unique position in that we are the only organisation which holds this level of detail about complaints against police officers in Northern Ireland. I think there is an onus on us to use this information to the best possible effect.
While we are independent of police, and deal with individual matters in an impartial way, we meet regularly with the police and the Policing Board to seek to ensure that the issues we have identified will help improve policing and reduce the level of complaints.
We also try to ensure that this learning is spread across the province. Our investigators meet senior police officers from the different districts and specialist departments to help them identify and address any local issues arising from complaints,” he said.
The Office sub-divides each complaint it receives into the particular areas of concern which are expressed – the particular allegations which are being made.
The latest figures reveal significant decreases in two of the most common allegations made against police officers during 2014-15.
Last year the number of allegations which said that a police officer had displayed Oppressive Behaviour, such as harassment or assault, fell by 28% to 1400 complaints.
The number of allegations which referred to incivility by a police officer, such as suggestions they had been rude or shown a lack of respect, fell by 23% to 421.
Conversely, the largest number of allegations received by the Office – those which believed a police officer had failed in his or her duty – rose by 5% to 2381.
During the year the Office fully investigated 1331 complaints. In 368 of those cases it found evidence to uphold the complaint or identified an issue of concern.
On 12 occasions it recommended that police officers be prosecuted.