17/07/2019

New Police Ombudsman Appointed

Marie Anderson has taken up her new role as Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

The former Public Services Ombudsman succeeds Dr Michael Maguire and is the fourth person to hold the position.

Her new office, with a staff of around 150 people and budget of over £9 million, is responsible for investigating complaints against the police.

Mrs Anderson, who is a solicitor by profession, said she will seek to both build on the independence of the organisation and satisfy herself that the investigation of complaints against the police meet modern Ombudsman standards.

Embarking on her new role, she commented: "Some of the most significant issues in recent times in Northern Ireland have been about the performance of our public services and officials. People demand accountability from those who serve us.
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"In my experience, when any process for investigating complaints cannot evidence the independence and impartiality of its findings, the public will lose confidence in it."

The Police Ombudsman's office deals with over 2,600 complaints about the conduct of serving police officers annually, and has more than 400 complaints about matters related to events during The Troubles.

Mrs Anderson said her priorities in the first few months will be to get acquainted with the staff and working practices of the Office: "I will be looking at the Office's complaints and investigation procedures to ensure they are fair and underpin its independence.

"This will include meeting complainants to the Office and police officers as well members of the Policing Board and the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.

"I want to satisfy myself that the processes for investigating complaints about police are as simple and accessible as they can be for the user and ensure transparency and learning for the PSNI.

"All public bodies should be open to learning and improvement. The Police Ombudsman's Office is no different."



(JG/CM)

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