“That is just the sort of old boy’s network…”

Given the latest controversy at the intersection of politics and policing, it’s worth pointing to Liam Clark’s comments on a previous disagreement over operational matters.  From the Belfast Telegraph article

In a modern democracy, politicians are expected to allow the police the operational independence to follow up whatever leads come up – even if many of them turn out to be false.

The alternative would be for detectives to ring up senior politicians and to ask which suspects could be vouched for and which it would be wise to pull in for questioning.

That is just the sort of old boys’ network that republicans claimed operated between senior unionists and the RUC under the old Stormont.

Indeed.  Or even, indeed.

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  • That is just the sort of old boys’ network that republicans claimed operated between senior unionists and the RUC under the old Stormont.

    Pete,

    I think it is well understood that, a generation ago, the CC took his marching orders (pun intended) from the Minister of Home Affairs (think Bill Craig).
    Although the police are now meant to be operationally independent, some politicians, not necessarily unionist, still try to interfere. With the rise of blogging, there is less chance of them getting away with it, thankfully.

  • Pete Baker

    We’re not talking about the past, joe…

  • lamhdearg

    “That is just the sort of old boys’ network that republicans claimed operated between senior unionists and the RUC under the old Stormont.”

    We’re not talking about the past, joe…

    one of these things is not like the other, which one can it be, sesame street.

  • You brought it up. Pete, with the sentence that I repeated

  • michael-mcivor

    So the british goverment are not allowed to support any of their people arrested by police around the world- Sinn Fein support all the people-

  • Pete Baker

    Focus, gentlemen.

  • lamhdearg

    i do agree that individual case’s should not be lent on my those elected.

  • OK. I thought my use of the word “interfere” explained my position but I’ll spell it out. Although the CC has to be accountable to civilians, operational control should be totally under his control only. That doesn’t mean he can’t be criticized by anyone, but “interference” is totally unacceptable.

  • USA

    Peter Baker,
    “That is just the sort of old boys’ network that republicans claimed operated between senior unionists and the RUC under the old Stormont”

    You were the one quoting old references, so JoeCanuck can do likewise. Don’t be so condescending and arrogant toward other participants.

  • huntsman

    Chris Patten in his report totally rejected the concept of “operational independence” of the police. He felt that all public servants should be accountable.

    Patten substituted the term “operational responsibility” whereby the police took responsibility on the ground for operational matters but were acting under civilian control

    If the police had full operational responsibility then you would have a police State state, not unlike the old days for which Clarke yearns.

    On the other hand, the police cannot simply act under the direct orders of politicans but the representatives of the people, namely the politicans, have a responsibility to hold the police to account and are fully within their rights to demand explanations for events which have already occured and to set overall policy.

    I would have felt that nobody wants a return to the old days of no police accountability during Direct Rule which resulted in so much alienation from large sections of the public.

    Policing is too important to be left solely in the hands of the police.

  • Cynic2

    “Sinn Fein support all the people”

    Michael

    Really? Liam Adams? Briege Meehan?

    I will give you that they did support the McCartney murderers. The wall of silence was deafening.

  • sonofstrongbow

    In a democracy the police exercise operational independence within the law. The politicians make the law. The ‘control’ of the police is founded in this arrangement with accountability mechanisms in place to ensure that the police abide by the rules.

    The attempts at interference in operational policing by Republicans, for example citing suspects as ‘innocent’ without due process, have nothing to do with accountability. Rather they are crude interventions in support of an agenda that hopes to render the police as nothing more than the ‘armed wing’ of the politicians in question. Now where did they get that idea from?

    Btw anyone who thinks Northern Ireland was a police state post 1922 has never actually experienced living in one.

  • Alias

    If the police didn’t have independence from the parlimentarians in operational matters then the parlimentarians would be above the law in regard to investigation of any criminal activity that they or their friends might engage in since they could use their power to prevent such investigation. Since no one can be above the law in a democracy police independence in operational matters is obviously essential.

    The police cannot, rather obviously, be allowed to make the law or set policing policy in a democracy so accountability of the police to parlimentarians in both operational matters and policy is also essential. That accountability should be via institutions of the state such as already exist but should not exclude the parlimentarians who don’t have responsibility via membership of the Executive for those institutions from subjecting the police to public criticism. Since those institutions can also be corrupt such as with PONI’s expedient revision of the definition of collusion, such scrutiny is also essential to democracy.

    The parlimentarians with executive responsibility should not comment on ongoing operational matters or investigations so as to avoid a conflict of interest, and they should certainly not issue any direction to the police on those matters. While the Joint First Ministers are just puppets, the public have the perception that they have more power than they actually have so public comment should also be avoided lest confidence in the independence of the police be undermined by it.

  • huntsman

    The idea that the police are somehow above control by the civic authorities is daft and no normal society would permit it. Politicans are fully entitled to their opinions, they go before the people on a regular basis to be endorsed.

    The police have to be accountable or we end up with securocrats alone deciding on matters of policy. The police then become detached from society. The police are part of society and must be responsive to the feelings and priorities of a society.

    During Direct Rule, Chief Constables have huge powers. Now that democracy has been restored NI has to become more like other European societies. Unionists should stop being cry babies and learn to live with people with different opinions. Nationalist have for generations had to listen to Unionist politicans making outlandish statements on security matters.

  • Cynic2

    I know. Let’s set up a group to campaign for this. We could call it the Civil Rights Movement

  • Comrade Stalin

    Chris Patten in his report totally rejected the concept of “operational independence” of the police. He felt that all public servants should be accountable.

    Accountability and operational independence are not the same thing.

    Operational independence means that politicians or officials don’t get to instruct the police on how they perform their job. So you can’t have a situation, for example, where the justice minister orders the Chief Constable to go and arrest Mr X. This also applies to other government departments.

    Accountability means that the police are required to explain themselves and may be subject to action being taken against them if they screw up. So our politicians are allowed to ask exactly why Mr X was arrested, or not arrested or whatever. They can then act by sacking or demoting people who screw up.

    The Police Board provides a buffer between the Justice Minister and the police themselves, so in our system here we are quite unique in that the Minister doesn’t directly hold the police to account. There have been some suggestions that the Police Board is now redundant given that we have locally accountable justice, but my recollection of Patten is that he recommended that the Board be retained in the event of devolution.

  • Munsterview

    Comrade S : “…. Operational independence means that politicians or officials don’t get to instruct the police on how they perform their job…..”

    Soo……. we have a normal democracy and a normal police force in Northern Ireland ?

    Got a precise date when all of this happened by any chance ?

  • sdelaneys

    michael
    ‘Sinn Fein support all the people’ Really? drug dealers, rapists, muggers? Then we have the UVF and the UDA, not to mention the Tory party, Sinn Fein supports them all?

  • HeinzGuderian

    hunt

    Unionists have no problem living with people of differing opinions.
    The problems start when those people use bombs and bullets to try and ‘persuade’ Unionists,that their ‘opinions’ are paramount.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “In a modern democracy, politicians are expected to allow the police the operational independence to follow up whatever leads come up – even if many of them turn out to be false.”

    Pete, to use your word, focus. No one here is reported to have interfered with the “operational independence” of the police. What instead is reported is that the cops arrested two humans. The two humans were released. One of the two humans is now questioning her arrest. Such is her right. Also the right of every other human to chime in as well.

    Relatedly, who here said to not follow up a lead? Following up a lead does not equate to making an arrest. So your point simply does not follow. Your point/thesis is the definition of non-sequitur.

    Lastly, and by the way, Mark’s thread misses the much better case. Forget the woman. Her boy’s last name is not Van der Lenden so can we assume that the Dutch national retired naval officer who was arrested is not his father? So, Dutch national, retired naval officer, not the boy’s father and so why in Deity’s name would he be in the ONH? I’d really love to be his lawyer. If the responsible souls have any sense whatsoever, they’ll be getting the other “operational independents'” to write a check to accompany the settlement agreement and release.

  • Munsterview

    Hienz : “….The problems start when those people use bombs and bullets to try and ‘persuade’ Unionists,that their ‘opinions’ are paramount….. ”

    Agreed Heinz However we are where we are and the reality remains that many Unionists did use force and the threat of force always in this country to persuade Nationalists and the remainder of the Unionist minority that their views were parmount !

    Indeed so strident did their hysterical rantings become about the discrentigation of the ‘Great Britian’ in the event of ‘Home Hule’ that there is an arguable case to be made that they were responsible for tipping the balance in the Kaiser’s and German Government’s decision to go to war as they thought that they were facing a British Government that did not have the support of it’s own people.

    Anyway historical spilt milk so to speak and no use the Unionists continuing to beat themselves up over their irrational opposition to the Irish Republic that Twenty-Eight of Thirty-Two Counties voted for by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair British Controlled election.

    However their hi-jacking of Two of those Counties against the democratic will of the majorities of those two counties and there incorporation of these against the wishes of all Twenty-Eight Counties into their Four County ‘refusing statlet’ is a bit more problematic for all fair minded people.

    The unionist claimed that a Unionist majority on all Four Counties gave them a right to be unionists and opt out.

    These same Unionists in those four counties also claimed that the Nationals Majority in the two Counties that voted for the Republic did not count and that they should be annexed and appendixes these to their ‘Rejecting the Majority Decision of the Irish People, opting out Statelet’

    A tad contidictorary do you not think ?

    However no doubt you will explain all these apparent contradictions to the rest of us with your usual clarity of vision ?

  • HeinzGuderian

    Not a problem Monster……………YOU LOST !! *simples* 😉

  • Mike the First

    Ah, Musterview, still stuck in the 1920s then.

  • andnowwhat

    Political interference in policing?

    Has anyone noticed the massive interference in GB ober everything from the News International saga to the riots?

  • andnowwhat

    over, not ober