Nuala says human rights-based policing works

Nuala O’Loan praises the PSNI’s improving record and makes the orthodox and I believe, the correct case in saying that the Human Rights Act gives protection to the police as well as those who confront them. She quotes a senior police officer.

The [Human Rights] Act in an everyday policing context uniquely brings protection both for those state officials charged with upholding the rights of the state against deviant individuals, and for individuals who might be vulnerable to the misuse of state power.”

It’s only common sense for the police not to treat every demo as a premeditated threat to public order and a challenge to their machismo. But it’s also a hard lesson to learn if militants go all out to provoke a forceful police reaction and continue the confrontation with synthetic outrage. How do the police know which is which?

  • underwood

    “As ombudsman I received very high levels of allegations of abuse of force, intimidation and harassment by police officers – over 50% of the 3,500-plus complaints during the first year fell in this category. Officers in Northern Ireland were 40 times more likely than their colleagues in England and Wales to attract such complaints.”

    Pity instead of providing selective information she didn’t elaborate further by telling us what percentage of the complaints were upheld and how many were spurious.
    Since her “all Protestants are bigots” remarks it’s hard to see her as anything other than heavily biased and with a distinct political agenda.

  • “How do the police know which is which?”

    Brian, they may well be confronted with the peaceful and the provocative in the same event.

    “People are now coming forward to help police in a way that has not happened in the past.”

    I think that needs to be qualified. There were people who wouldn’t or couldn’t assist the police during the various Troubles who probably would have done so during periods of relatively peaceful co-existence.

    “There was regularly excessive use of force. Policing had become repressive and separated from much of the community.”

    Perhaps Nuala could have shed a little more light in this rather dark domain, seeing that her husband, Declan, is a prominent member of the SDLP.

    Some years back there was excessive use of force by police in an encounter that was to an extent engineered by one of Declan’s colleagues – X. X described to me how he wanted to achieve a better outcome in an annual event in his district.

    Now he could have spoken to the police district commander, even brought together the commander and the event organisers to talk through some of the problems that regularly arose.

    Instead he went through the post-1985 ‘back channel’ by contacting the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin. The DFA would then have passed the issue to their people in the Joint Secretariat (Maryfield, later Windsor House)

    Many years ago a member of the JS explained to me the next step in the process. The JS would convene a round table discussion of those with responsibility for policing – officials from the NIO and senior police officers. A strategy would be formulated, tactics agreed and the police would be tasked with implementation. The difficulty with this approach was that most of if not all of those taking part would have had little or no local knowledge.

    Getting back to X’s intervention, DMSU’s were deployed, batons were wielded and a bad situation was made much worse.

    PS Perhaps some of our investigative journalists or Slugger bloggers could put more flesh on the bones of the ‘back channel’ that I’ve outlined. They did quite a good job on the material that I provided in relation to the ‘DUP 4’. It might help minimise inappropriate scapegoating, facilitate a fairer distribution of blame – and lead to better policing.

  • The Raven

    “It’s only common sense for the police not to treat every demo as a premeditated threat to public order and a challenge to their macho.”

    While this example is from across the duckpond, I’d have to say hmmmmmmm

  • miss fitz

    That was breath-taking! I am gob smacked at that footage, and reminded that power corrupts

  • The Raven

    Miss Fitz, I have to say that the actions of the protestors were deliberately provocative.

    Nonetheless, there is nothing more provocative than the presence of FIT teams in the first place. Having experienced them firsthand myself, they hate nothing more than having the tables turned on them.

    It is worth reading the FITWATCH blog at, just to get an idea of how far surveillance activities have got out of hand.

    “I think they’ve got away with this sort of policing for far too long, and we’ve let them get away with it.” Never more true words have been spoken.

  • Miss Fitz

    I’ve been a little on the’other side’ in terms of having been a monitor of public order events in the past, and Police having their number on show is an absolute,although I have seen them try to get away with it.
    I dont think the protestors were provocative, I think they were completely within their rights to do what they did, and further more the Police were plain wrong for not showing their ID.

    Anyway, the way they treated those women was really shocking. Body wrapping someone for asking your ID? Truly disgraceful.

    I know you can ony go so far with the Police when things are going on in the background, but allowing them to consider this normal or acceptable behaviour is out of the question

  • The Raven

    Ever tried to get on to one of those District Policing Partnerships, by the way?