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Police Ombudsman - A Study of the Attitudes of Members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the New Complaints System, 2004



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A Study of the Attitudes of Members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the New Complaints System.

 

The survey was conducted among all PSNI members between January - March 2003 by the Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency for the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.A questionnaire was distributed to approximately 9,900 officers, almost 40% of whom (3877) responded. Out of that 40% response, one third (1,300) had experienced the Police Ombudsmanís Office.

The Police Ombudsmanís Office, the Police Federation - the body which represents rank and file police officers - and the Superintendents Association of Northern Ireland, have now set up a joint Working Committee to address the issues raised in the survey.

The survey consisted of a series of questions to which officers were invited to rate how strongly they agreed or disagreed. The main findings were as follows:

  • 58% of police officers think that complaints against officers should be independently investigated.

  • 41% of police officers think that the existence of an independent Police Ombudsmanís Office will help increase peopleís confidence in the police

  • 43% of police officers think that members of the PSNI should be able to complain to the Police Ombudsman about the conduct of other members rather than to their line manager.

  • 63% of police officers think that complaints are inevitable if they are doing their job properly

  • 56% of police officers think that there is less misconduct in the PSNI than in most other police services.

  • 53% of police officers said they were deterred from doing their job properly because they knew they might be complained about

  • 44% of police officers think that the Police Ombudsman is not doing a good job in dealing with complaints against the police.

  • 43% of police officers think that the Police Ombudsmanís Office will not help ensure that the police do a good job

  • 37% of police officers thought the Police Ombudsman Office was doing a poor job

Police Officers had a negative perception towards the Police Ombudsmanís Office and the professionalism of its investigators:

  • 70% of police officers thought that the Police Ombudsmanís Office did not approach both the person making a complaint and the officer complained about with an open mind

  • 63% of police officers think that the Police Ombudsmanís investigators are more likely to believe the person making the complaint than the officer being complained about

  • 54% of police officers think that the Police Ombudsmanís investigators are not experienced enough to be able to investigate a complaint properly

  • 42% of police officers think that the Police Ombudsmanís Office is out to get them

In Contrast, police officers who had been in contacted with the Police Ombudsmanís Office had a contradictory but largely positive attitude to most stages of the process:

  • 74% of police officers who had been in contact with the Police Ombudsmanís Office said they were satisfied with the overall time it had taken to resolve the complaint

  • 64% of police officers who had been in contact with the Police Ombudsmanís Office said they were satisfied with the outcome of the investigation.

  • 61% of police officers who had been in contact with the Police Ombudsmanís Office and had attended the Office in connection with a complaint against them said they were satisfied with the way they had been received

  • 58% of police officers who had been in contact with the Police Ombudsmanís Office thought that the explanation of the complaints process given to them was clear.

  • 53% of police officers who had been in contact with the Police Ombudsmanís Office and had been interviewed said they were satisfied with the way staff dealt with them during the interview

  • 48% of police officers who had been in contact with the Police Ombudsmanís Office said they were dissatisfied with the way the Office had dealt with them during the investigation.

  • 57% of police officers who been in contacted with the Police Ombudsmanís Office said they felt they had not been fairly treated

  • 85% of police officers who had been in contact with the Police Ombudsmanís Office said that the updates of the progress of their investigation was not frequent enough.

The survey indicates a desire of many police officers to know more about the Police Ombudsmanís Office:

  • 67% of police officers said they would like to know more about the role, responsibilities and powers of the Police Ombudsmanís Office

  • 36% of police officers said they had a good knowledge of the role, responsibilities and powers of the Police Ombudsman. 36% said they hadnít

  • 44% of police officers think that the Police Ombudsmanís Office is not open in telling people what it is doing

 


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