More than 3,000 complaints against police last year

Published Date: 30.06.2016

The Police Ombudsman’s Office dealt with more than 3,000 complaints about the conduct of police officers in Northern Ireland in the last financial year – that is a drop of 10% on the previous year.

This is one of the figures contained in the organisation’s latest Annual Report and its Annual Statistical Bulletin, both of which have been published.

The report reveals that around 770 of those complaints related to the conduct of police officers during criminal investigations.

Around 560 complaints were made after police officers had arrested someone and in the region of 240 followed a police search.

The numbers for each of these types of complaint had decreased from the previous year.

This reduction in complaint levels was reflected across most of Northern Ireland, with no police district seeing an increase in complaints.

This trend has been welcomed by the Police Ombudsman’s Chief Executive, Adrian McAllister:

“The PSNI are to be congratulated on these figures. I know they are putting a lot of time and effort in to reducing situations which could give rise to complaints against their officers.

We are working with them on this and feeding back to the PSNI recommendations when we think their policies or procedures could be improved. This seems to be paying off,” he said.

However, not everything is on the decline. Last year the Office received 77 complaints about ‘historical’ matters connected to The Troubles.  This was the second highest level of such complaints in recent years.

Mr McAllister said the complexity of some of the complaints about current policing also continues to be an issue for the Office:

“Some of the complaints we have received are about very significant and complex matters.  We have a special team to deal with such cases, but given their complexity and our limited resources, it can be a struggle to complete this work in a timely manner,” he said.

Not all complaints received by the Police Ombudsman’s Office require a full investigation. Last year more than 190 were resolved informally, whereby the person making the complaint and the police officer complained of resolve the issue.

The Office fully investigated more than 1,140 complaints last year and in 25% of them found evidence to substantiate all or part of the allegations or identified another issue of concern.

On more than 300 occasions last year the Office recommended that police officers/police staff be disciplined arising from issues identified in its investigations.  On 21 occasions it recommended the prosecution of police officers.

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