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PSNI and ombudsman reach information deal
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12 Aug 2020 / policing Print

PSNI and ombudsman reach information deal

Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman and the PSNI have signed an agreement covering how the force shares information with the complaints body.

A statement from the Police Ombudsman’s Office said agreement came after months of detailed discussion between the two organisations on the procedures involved.

Access

Ombudsman Marie Anderson, who was appointed to the post last year, said she had wanted to develop the process to ensure her investigators had the best access to material.

“I know that providing us with information has, at times, been difficult for police, not least because of the vastness of the task, but also the legal duty on all of us to protect the most sensitive of information,” she said.

But she added that the public had to have confidence that the police would provide her office with all the information it asked for.

Public confidence

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne also welcomed the agreement, saying the effective disclosure of information was central to public confidence in both organisations, particularly in relation to dealing with the past.

Last year, the ombudsman said investigations into complaints made by a number of families faced delays because the PSNI had identified previously undisclosed material.

The previous ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire also said last year that “significant, sensitive information” held by the police was not made available to his investigators.

The discovery was made during the office’s investigation of issues linked to the 1992 shooting at a bookmakers’ shop on the Ormeau Road in Belfast in which five people were killed.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland