On February 8, 2013, the Belfast Telegraph printed a front page story and a number of articles regarding an alleged investigation by the Policing Board into the PSNI's policing of the flag protests.
The newspaper insinuated that this investigation would not only be a waste of time and money, but also that human rights impedes policing. I would like to assure your readers that, on both counts, this is not the case.
Firstly, it was agreed by the human rights and professional standards committee in January 2013 that the board's human rights adviser should set out the legal framework for the policing of public order situations generally. This piece of work was not an investigation of flag protest policing. It was intended to assist the board with understanding the legal framework within which the police operate, thus enabling us to more effectively hold the police to account in respect of this complex area of policing, which not only costs millions of pounds every year, but also presents some of the most critical interactions between police and the community.
Secondly, in respect of the suggestion that human rights impedes policing, my colleagues and I believe that PSNI can provide effective policing and comply with human rights legislation: to suggest otherwise does a disservice to our highly committed police officers.
The board is legally required to monitor and report upon PSNI's human rights compliance and we will continue to carry out this oversight work in respect of public order policing.
CONALL McDEVITT MLA
Chair, partnership committee
Northern Ireland Policing Board