Police watchdog calls for sanctions against one in 5 officers

Posted By: December 10, 2015

John  Monaghan.Irish News(Belfast). Thursday, December 10, 2015

MORE than one in five police officers have been recommended for disciplinary procedures or sanctions in the past five years, new figures reveal.

Since 2010 the Police Ombudsman has made recommendations against 1,484 police officers out of a current total of 6,780 serving officers.

It means that the ombudsman is recommending disciplinary action against an average of almost 300 police officers every year.

The PSNI described the figure as “concerning” but added that it was working to reduce the number of complaints, which have averaged 3,300 per year – around nine every day – since 2010.

The vast majority of complaints received last year related to allegations of failure of duty. More than half of those related to “the conduct of police investigations or police response to incidents”.

In the 12 months to March this year alone 380 police officers were referred for sanctions by the ombudsman’s office.

The 2014/15 total was almost two thirds more than the previous year and the highest since 2011/12, when 359 were recommended to face disciplinary measures.

Formal measures can include a caution, a fine, a reduction in pay and in certain cases dismissal, according to figures contained under a freedom of information request.

The ombudsman recommended that officers should face prosecution on 12 occasions in 2014/15.

A PSNI spokesman said that although the number of complaints made was “concerning”, police would continue to work to reduce the figure. 

He cited a 10 per cent reduction in the number of complaints made against police officers to the ombudsman in the past financial year.