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Ford welcomes recommencement of historic investigations

Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed the recommencement of historic investigations by the Office of the Police Ombudsman (OPONI).
Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The recommendation by CJINI, as an independent and impartial organisation, that OPONI can resume their historic investigations is a positive development.

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, made the announcement following the publication of an independent report by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (CJINI).  

The Chief Inspector Brendan McGuigan recommended that historic investigations could recommence after he had found evidence that substantial progress had been made by the OPONI against initial recommendations made by CJINI in September 2011.

The 2011 report by CJINI, which led to the suspension of historic investigations, found that the way in which OPONI conducted its historic investigations had led to a lowering of its operational independence.

David Ford said: “I welcome the publication of the CJINI report.  The Inspectorate has conducted a rigorous review and has found that substantial progress has been made against their recommendations from 2011, including the introduction of new structures and processes to provide robust quality assurance.

“I am conscious of the distress the decision to suspend the investigations caused the families, police and the wider public.  It is however vitally important that there is public confidence in the way in which investigations are carried out and reported.

“The recommendation by CJINI, as an independent and impartial organisation, that OPONI can resume their historic investigations is a positive development.”

The Department is also progressing work on a number of proposed changes to the structure, role and powers of the OPONI.  

David Ford said: “My Department is currently progressing work to agree a package of reforms to restore public confidence in the Office of the Police Ombudsman.  Of primary importance to me will be to ensure OPONI fulfils its functions with the confidence of the public and the police.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Office of the Police Ombudsman was established by the Police (NI) Act 1998 to provide an independent means of handling complaints against the police. The Police Ombudsman is responsible for the investigation of complaints against the police and a range of other matters.
  2. Dr Maguire took up post as new Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland on 16 July 2012.
  3. David Ford announced an additional £10m, funding in March 2012 to enable OPONI’s history directorate to conclude investigations in six years.
  4. The Department is currently engaging with all the political parties, the Justice Committee and the Ombudsman’s Office to agree a package of reform measures and put in place a new operating model following the public consultation carried out last year.
  5. All media enquires should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 90526444.  Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.