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PSNI complaints at eight-year high

Complaints against the police in Northern Ireland are at their highest in eight years.

More than 3,500 complaints about officers' actions were lodged last year, an increase of 14%, according to Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's annual report.

It is the largest number since the year after the establishment of the Police Service of Northern Ireland which replaced the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Mr Hutchinson said the figure mirrored trends identified by the Policing Board which indicated a declining level of satisfaction with policing service.

He said: "Quite clearly the public who interact with the police are increasingly unhappy and this is reflected in the increasing number of complaints. There needs to be a collective institutional and governmental response to this trend.

"Obviously this will be even more difficult as this office, the PSNI and other services face significant cuts in service in the years ahead."

A survey of those making complaints, and who indicated their religious background, suggested that 47% belonged to one of the main Protestant churches - an increase from 44% on the previous year - while 34% described themselves as Catholic, a drop of 5%.

The reports also found another 19% said they had another or no religion, up 3% on the previous 12 months.

Mr Hutchinson said that while his office held police officers to account, he believed it was increasingly important for the public to work with the police and other institutions to help improve policing

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