Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Ombudsman promises fairness in debut address to republicans

Policing watchdog, Al Hutchinson has become the first Police Ombudsman to address a Sinn Fein conference.

Mr Hutchinson, who succeeded Nuala O'Loan, told delegates at last night's conference in Dublin that an effective police accountability system was essential to securing community confidence in policing.

He said: " Police officers do a difficult job, but they are given significant powers in order to perform their duties.

"On occasion, members of the public will be concerned about the ways in which police use those powers. On other occasions they may be concerned at a perceived lack of action by officers.

"It is vital that there is a body to deal with those concerns. The community can have confidence that allegations of misconduct against police officers will be fully independently and impartially investigated by my office.

"Police officers can also be confident that allegations made against them will be investigated fairly, and that our investigations will be entirely evidence-based," he said.

Mr Hutchinson revealed that his office enjoyed high levels of cross-community support in Northern Ireland with 88% of Protestants and 84% of Catholics believing it is fair and 87% of Catholics and 78% of Protestants stating that it helps to improve policing.

"In addition 85% of officers who have been investigated by my office say they were treated fairly. These are solid foundations on which to build for the future," he said.

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