#OTRs: Police Ombudsman finds PSNI’s ‘Operation Rapid’ flawed…

The Police Ombudsman reports

Dr Maguire has said that while it was not improper for a police service to review the circumstances in which it regards people as ‘wanted,’ the process used lacked clarity:

“The Terms of Reference for the exercise is silent on how individuals were selected to be reviewed or the procedure by which the information from the review was to be communicated onwards to other parties.

Nor could we find a satisfactory rationale as to why the police recommended a review of a large number of people previously reported on in recent years,” he said.

The Police Ombudsman report concludes that as a process for reviewing ‘serious offences including murder, the exercise was flawed:

“Perhaps the most serious and significant flaw was to apply a higher standard for considering whether someone should be arrested than that which is normally applied. [Emphasis added]

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Morpheus

    The Ombudsman’s report says that the PSNI’s role in Operation Rapid was flawed Mick, not Operation Rapid itself as your title suggests.

    “Dr Maguire’s report said the police involvement during the period was marked by a lack of clarity, structure and leadership, with disjointed communication between key officers.”

    This is not new information however, it is quite obvious that very serious mistakes were made – mistakes the CC admitted and apologized for.

    I found this bit interesting:

    “Investigators established that 36 people who had been previously assessed as ‘wanted’ were subsequently re-assessed under Operation Rapid as ‘not wanted.’ John Downey was one of those people. In July 2004 police documentation recorded that Mr Downey was wanted for arrest and questioning in connection with a terrorist attack in Northern Ireland.

    Who re-assessed the 36? Is the implication that they should’ve been told that they were wanted?

    Interesting also that Downey was wanted for questioning in connection with a terrorist attack in Northern Ireland but not the crimes for which he was to stand trial. I don’t think it has been explained why the Prosecution Service felt there was sufficient evidence for a trial but no extradition proceedings were in place.

    The bottom line here is that if all 200+ asked again tomorrow the PSNI are legally obliged to give confirmation so the trick is to learn from the past and make sure the processes are robust enough to prevent mistakes in the future.

  • chrisjones2

    Then there is this little bit at 5.30

    “This letter is significant in that it supports the NIO are the first agency to

    introduce, in their letter to John Downey on 20 July 2007, the text:

    ‘The Police Service of Northern Ireland are not aware of any interest in you

    from any other police force in the United Kingdom.’

    So it wasn’t PSNI that said it. It was the NIO.. Another shameful dirty deal

  • Morpheus

    Are you trying to say that the PSNI said that Downey was wanted but the NIO changed that to unwanted?

    You got a link? What is 5.30?

  • chrisjones2

    No. The PSNI said he wasn’t wanted in NI – true but incomplete – but were silent on England.

    The NIO modified the letter to say he wasn’t wanted anywhere and didn’t tell the PSNI they were making the change. Indeed the PSNI seem to have been entirely unaware of the NIOs role in the squalid dirty little process

    It was that that change to the letter that led to the collapse in the case.

    And all thta happened becasue what was set up as a legal process was seized by the NIO as a political tool to gain kudos with SF

  • Morpheus

    I suggest a dial down of the rhetoric and a re-read of The Hallett Review, in particular this bit:

    “10.46 The police report in 2007 on Mr Downey to the PPS was accurate in so far as it went (namely, he was not wanted by the PSNI for an offence committed in Northern Ireland) but it came within the context of assurances having been given that checks with external forces had been conducted. In any event, the PSNI could arrest someone ‘wanted’ by another UK force. Thus, the clear implication of the PSNI report was that Mr Downey was ‘not wanted’ by any force in the UK.”


  • chrisjones2

    I agree…but read what the ombudsman says. The Police draft letters didn’t contain any assurance about not being wanted in England. The NIO version (created in secret for political ends) did.

    It was the NIO what done it.

    PSNI were at fault too but most blame lay on the Hill and they are desperate to pass the buck

  • chrisjones2

    5.30 in the Ombudsman’s report on their website

  • chrisjones2

    Oh come on…I think we can all answer that. The Government were desperate to have an amnesty so a pseudo one was manufactured

    The second dodgy dossier!!!!

  • Morpheus

    Again, read the review. The police were supposed to do the checks with all police forces in the UK, they messed up and didn’t correct the mistake despite ample opportunity to do so. The CC has already apologized for the failings so we need to learn from it and ensure mistakes don’t happen next time

  • Morpheus

    How many times…? There was no amnesty, pseudo or otherwise.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Operation Rapid was a police operation, was it not?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    How the police performed in implementing Operation Rapid is a secondary issue really to its existence in the first place. This was a subverting of the democratic process by Hain et al, putting into place an “under the radar” arrangement bilaterally with SF without adequately informing other parties, as Hallett LJ found, and giving misleading answers in parliament when directly asked about it, to put other parties off the scent.