Published Date: 01.07.2019
Most police officers who were subject of a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office last year felt that its staff treated them fairly.
Most of the people who made complaints to the Office in that year also took a similar view.
These are among the main findings from two separate surveys carried out by the Office into the attitudes of those who had made a complaint about police last year and those who had been subject of complaint.
The main results from the surveys are contained in the organisation's latest Annual Report and its Annual Statistical Bulletin, both of which have just been published.
The first report presented findings of a Police Officer Satisfaction Survey drawn from responses by police officers who were subject of an investigation which was subsequently closed during 2018/19.
The majority of those officers -78% - felt that Office staff had treated them fairly.
A total of 87% indicated that they had been treated with respect, while 75% said their issue was dealt with in an independent manner.
In a similar survey of those who had made complaints during that period, 74% said they too had been treated fairly.
A total of 85% of people who had made complaints indicated that they had been treated with respect, while 54% said the staff dealt with their complaint in an independent manner.
Earlier this month, the Office released statistics from the latest Northern Ireland Life and Times survey, carried out by Ulster University and Queens University.
The Survey, which was carried out between September 2018 and February 2019, recorded results from a series of questions asked about the police complaints system and provides analyses of those responses according to people’s gender, age and religious background.
It indicated that 86% of people in Northern Ireland had heard of the Police Ombudsman’s Office.
It asked those people who had heard of the organisation if they were confident it deals with complaints in an impartial way.
Overall, 80% indicated they had this confidence.
This understanding seemed high across the community, with 83% of people from a Protestant background, 77% from a Catholic background and 74% of people describing themselves as having ‘No Religion’ taking this view.
It also asked those who had heard of the Police Ombudsman’s Office if it was independent of police: 88% said they believed it was.
This understanding was also high across the community, with 92% of people who identified as Protestant, 83% who identified as Catholic and 85% of people who descried themselves as being of No Religion sharing this view.
The Survey also indicated that of those who had heard of the Police Ombudsman’s Office, 82% believed it helped ensure police do a good job.
86% of Protestant people, 76% of Catholic people and 80% of people of No Religion took this view.
The results have been welcomed by the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire:
“Some of our work is by its very nature controversial and has generated a lot of media headlines.
Yet when you take the totality of our work, the evidence of our independence and impartiality is there time and time again.
These results would seem to indicate that the public are taking that wider view, while the experiences of police officers and complainants show this to be the reality,” he said.
The Police Ombudsman’s latest Annual Report
and its latest Annual Statistical Bulletin
are available on its website.