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Learn About the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

The Police Ombudsman’s Office provides a free, independent and impartial service for dealing with complaints about the conduct of police officers in Northern Ireland.

These include complaints that:

  • officers failed to conduct proper enquiries
  • officers used excessive force
  • officers were rude or aggressive
  • or acted inappropriately in other ways.

We look at evidence to decide whether police officers have acted properly or not.

We also investigate complaints about some, but not all, civilian employees of the police. This includes those performing custody and escort duties.

Our decisions are made entirely independently of the police, government and complainants.

We deal with complaints about:

  • The Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • National Crime Agency officers in Northern Ireland (serious cases only)
  • Belfast Harbour Police
  • Belfast International Airport Police
  • Ministry of Defence police in Northern Ireland (serious cases only)
  • Immigration officers and some customs officials in Northern Ireland (serious cases only)
  • Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery.

The Office was established in November 2000, is based in Belfast city centre, and has a staff of about 150 people, about 100 of whom work within our investigations teams.

Find out more about the history of the Office.

Historical Investigations:

The Police Ombudsman's remit for investigating grave or exceptional matters relating to the actions of police officers during the conflict in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998 (commonly known as "The Troubles") ended on 30 April 2024.

From 1 May 2024, the power to investigate deaths and serious injuries related to the Troubles between 1 January 1966 and 10 April 1998 became the responsibility of the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

Transitional arrangements under the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 will allow for the completion of reports and related administrative tasks in cases where Police Ombudsman investigations have concluded.

The Police Ombudsman's Office aims to conclude 95 Troubles-related cases by 30 April 2025.