Why do people complain about the cops?

The level of complaints received by the Police Ombudsman has remained pretty static over the last three report years. They will deal with 3000+ complaints each year and 5000+ allegations.

Two areas consistently sit in the top two areas complained about:

‘Failure in Duty’ – 2,000+ allegations making up around 40% of the total
‘Oppresive Bahaviour’ – 1,500+ allegations making up around 30% of the total.

Some areas have shown dramatic spikes in the last year covered (below the fold). Any thoughts on why?You can delve into the statistics at local level using the link above. If you spot anything of interest do let us know.

  • KieranJ

    Because these are not Irish police.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    I suspect one of the reasons that people complain about the cops..is because they CAN complain about the cops. I prefer the less loaded term “policemen and policewomen”.
    The fact is that in the early years of the Troubles, the police did not always behave well.
    Neither did the people who oppose the Police.

    Of course innocent people did get caught up in aggressive, foul mouthed policing. As indeed did many innocent people get caught up in car bombs.

    But there is I suspect very few Catholic men of a certain age who have NOT been called a “Fenian bast***” by someone in RUC uniform.
    Now of course this is deplorable behaviour, not to be mitigated by an ongoing war.
    But there are I suspect different reactions if you are ENTIRELY innocent. …ie not shouting “Orange bast***” at the Police.

    If you are innocent and dont like being called a “Fenian bast***” you might go down to Andytown Police Station and make a formal complaint, where the suspicion would be that it might not be given serious investigation. And while quite possibly the offending Constable might get a rap on the knuckles…..the deeper suspicion might be that the ordinary rank and file might “target” you.

    Now of course….thru legislation AND the incredibly hard work put in by the PSNI, this is no longer the case.
    If I was ever stopped at a check point and not dealt with civilly, I would be at the front desk of the local PSNI station before you can say “European Court of Human Rights”
    Having said that I have no expectation of being treated badly.
    It is important NOT to comapre figures from the bad old days with the new era.
    In an era where people CAN make complaints and are encouraged to so do….then people WILL make complaints.
    As any bus driver knows…there is a type of customer who LIKES to make complaints. Many are just people who are “pukes”.

  • RepublicanStones

    Why do people complain about the cops?

    Because its like trying not to discuss the weather or football whilst in the barbers, one of lifes impossibilities !

  • Mark McGregor

    Anyone care to give a theory for the massive rise in complaints about ‘Searches’ and ‘Unnecessary/Unlawful detention’? Another demonstration of the abuse of Section 44 legislation? Or something else?

  • Pete Baker

    “4.Anyone care to give a theory for the massive rise in complaints about ‘Searches’ and ‘Unnecessary/Unlawful detention’?”

    Why the apparent mystery, Mark?

    Questions about the use of Section 44 have already been noted.

    And the massive increase in the numbers of those stopped and searched between 2006 and 2009 already accounts for the increase in compaints.

    What you need to find are the number of complaints upheld.

  • joeCanuck


    Pete has already covered the massive increase in road stops a couple of weeks ago. I imagine that is the reason.

  • joeCanuck

    oops, Pete. Crossed posts.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    Actually Mr McGregor I already gave a theory…….because they CAn complain

  • Mark McGregor


    While the posts may be connected they are very different. Yours are on the use of one piece of legislation, mine is on complaints to the Ombudsman across various areas.

    If you are claiming the rise in the specific complaint areas I note is due to Section 44 I’d love to hear your reasoning.

    I’d probably agree that is the cause but it hasn’t been proven as yet.

  • FitzjamesHorse

    I expect there is some kinda crude analysis on the lunacy wing of Republicanism that this “proves” that the Police have not changed and it is 1968 all over again.
    Alas that kinda republican is trapped in a time warp and best left there.
    Nobody who was actually around in 1968 actually believes that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The last time I looked at the complaints by the Police Ombudsman, a good two thirds of them did not result in any further action being taken and a significant proportion out of those were frivolous. It would be interesting to revisit this.