Did PSNI just change the script?

One standout take-away from the Belfast Telegraph’s ‘BelTelBomber’ piece was an unexpected response from police which cut to the very core of how large organisations deal with the media in two interesting ways. Firstly, a recap: the Belfast Telegraph’s story followed up on the Manchester bombing by sending a reporter to visit local tourist attractions, complete with a backpack, to check if he could do so without any checks. The newspaper’s front page was given over to the piece along … Read more

Fake News and False Balance undermine Victims’ Human Rights

Last weekend was the second anniversary of the rightsinfo.org website. To mark the event, a panel discussion took place during which the site’s founder Adam Wagner stated that “fake news was old news in human rights” and that people “have been convinced by newspapers for years and years that human rights are a villain.” He was joined at the panel discussion by Buzzfeed Special Correspondent James Ball who said “The bigger problem is…essentially the much wider ecosystem of material which … Read more

We missed out on Cressida Dick but the links between the NI police and the Met are strong

Congratulations to Cressida Dick who has overcome the pain and controversy of being the  Gold commander in the operation which led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, to become the first woman Commissioner of the Met.  The Policing Board  here passed  her over for Chief Constable in 2014, preferring George Hamilton as  the first local man to head up the PSNI. Gender therefore isn’t everything, although her application suggested that the PSNI job could still … Read more

Shame on the politicians for allowing the PSNI to become the victims of a tabloid firestorm over army prosecutions

A tabloid storm  blown up  by the Sun and the Mail with the Daily Telegraph in tow  has been set off to save  hundreds, perhaps thousands of “our boys” – the soldiers who served in the Troubles – from the “ witch hunt” of being singled out as a class for prosecution as a result of Army action in the Troubles. The surge probably owes more to  the  establishment campaign against prosecutions over Iraq – one case now being  the … Read more

90% of the individuals admitted to PSNI custody suites have mental health problems

An eye-popping statistic emerged during the PSNI 15 Years On conference this week. While reflecting on the complex web of causal factors surrounding crime we learnt that ninety percent of the individuals admitted to PSNI custody suites had mental health problems.  Ninety percent.  Many had self harmed, some were at risk of suicide.  This raises the question -is the custody suite the correct place in which to detain these people?  Would an acute mental health assessment unit not be a … Read more

How Twitter is taking us beyond the PSNI’s closed doors

A quick one: over on his own blog a writer who describes himself on Twitter as a PSNI officer has just published a rarely-seen (WARNING – EXTREMELY GRAPHIC) glimpse into what are presented as some of the hardest days of a currently-serving police officer. For many years, Police Service of Northern Ireland social media policy for work social posts and security concerns for personal posts kept this kind of look at life beyond the PR hashtags and taglines to a … Read more

‘Crime Boy I Dunno’ Comparing stats between St Patrick’s Day and 12th July

Brendan Hughes from the Irish News has an interesting story in today’s Irish News about the level of crime reported during St Patrick’s Day and the 12th July from the 2009-2015 period where he finds little difference between the two events. In his examination he reports; We also studied figures for the 36-hour period surrounding each date – from 6pm on March 16 and July 11, to 6am on March 18 and July 13. The Twelfth comes out on top … Read more

PSNI in 2016: Some hard choices we now need to make?

The Patten Report of 1999 famously led to the formation of the PSNI through a total of 175 recommendations covering a string of areas from human rights and oversight to – of course – the very name, size and composition of the organisation. With an Oversight Commissioner, Police Ombudsman, new District Policing Partnerships and a central Policing Board (and their associated costs) soon in place, Hugh Orde would often remark that his force had become the most accountable policing body in the … Read more

Ten years after Cory: has the human rights case been lost?

The Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ) have just published a long delayed report on a conference held  two years ago  to review the state of accountability for covert policing for the controversial  UK Investigatory Powers Bill,   against the background of  what went on during the Troubles. They began by noting that the UK national security and crime institutions MI5 the National Crime Agency operate in the province without specific accountability to the local institutions. This is hardly news. … Read more

“but only those which had a score were recorded in their annual reports…”

This’ll have to you laughing (not)! The poor old PSNI missed more than half their targets says NI’S Comptroller and Auditor General. Then he, rather patiently, explains exactly why… The Policing Board and PSNI have continued to make progress in developing appropriate targets for the Policing Plan, but there is still room for further improvement. In particular, there are too many targets. A reduction in the number of targets would help to ensure that efforts are clearly focused on improving … Read more

Uncomfortable Conversations – the Chief Constable, Sinn Féin Chair and me

Tomorrow night in Derry, I’ll take part in an “Uncomfortable Conversation” that will include the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, Sinn Féin Chair Declan Kearney and Alan McBride, member of the NI Human Rights Commission and victims’ campaigner. The event, part of the Gasyard Féile, is one of a series of conversations around how we both deal with our past and build our future as communities, towns and cities and indeed islands seeking to emerge from conflict. These events and … Read more

Building trust and policing for the present – Martin McGuinness and George Hamilton at #feile15

Around 400 people filled the assembly hall of St Mary’s University College to hear deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness and PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton discuss the challenges of dealing with the past under the eye of chair Brian Rowan. Another 100 or more stood along the pavement outside St Mary’s protesting at the presence of the Chief Constable in West Belfast and calling for an end to “British internment in Ireland”. A tannoy blasted music over the railing towards … Read more

Cyber Crime in NI – can we tell if the PSNI e-Crime unit is effective or the right size?

BBC NI’s Vincent Kearney has been behind the scenes at the PSNI’s e-Crime Unit, a 21-strong team who have the tools and expertise to recover data and extract forensic information from mobile phones and computer hard drives. Other than the NI Policing Board and a few academics, Vincent Kearney’s interview with ACC Will Kerr (Good Morning Ulster, immediately after 8am news) provides the most detailed picture of PSNI’s practice and approach to cyber-crime than any reference I can find online. … Read more

Lord Carlile: “Peace is in no small way the result of these efforts by PSNI and MI5 personnel.”

On 20th March the Order in Council extending the operations of the UK National Crime Agency to Northern Ireland came into power – despite the challenge that presents to the Speaker of the NI Assembly – bringing us into line with the rest of the UK in the process. On the same date the NI Secretary of State of State, Theresa Villiers, made a written statement to the House of Commons on the report by Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of national security … Read more

Martin: I believe that we can build a safer, fairer, more confident community in Northern Ireland.

The Towards a Better Future conference starts today in Belfast. Writing for Slugger, the Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI, Stephen Martin, writes about policing and hate crime Since May 2014, we have arrested 95 people and charged 46 of them with offences linked to hate crimes in the Belfast area. This sends out a clear message that those who commit hate crimes will face consequences. However, none of this will address the underlying causes of the hatred which we … Read more

The PSNI’s latest move against the Boston archive is unintelligent

Henry McDonald in the Observer has picked up on the PSNI’s latest incursion into Boston tapes morass. There is a blinkered police logic to this that contradicts the stated expectations of the law officers of the low likelihood of future prosecutions.   Pursue the Bloody Sunday paras and  give Gerry Adams lousy food in Antrim Police station for a couple of days. If the PSNI go after the Army and the Provos they have to go after the loyalists, don’t … Read more

Happy New Year from PSNI West Belfast #tweetonthebeat

Happy New Year from your friends PSNI West Belfast who kept their 750 followers mightily … informed and entertained with their #tweetonthebeat feature, live tweeting some of the lively hi jinks they got up to on Wednesday night to see in 2015. A few choice examples:     Because having to go out to deal with “loads” of domestics – you know, intervening to stop people being abused or terrorised in their own homes – sounds like a Happy New … Read more

The PSNI Historic Enquiries Team is dead; Long live the Legacy Investigations Branch

There was a clue in the Chief Constable’s speech this morning to the Dignity and Rights conference. Addressing the NI Policing Board this afternoon, George Hamilton outlined how he planned to address his responsibilities for reviewing legacy cases. LEGACY REVIEWS AND INVESTIGATIONS In my October Report, I outlined the effective closure of HET as a result of the end of our temporary workers contract. As Chief Constable, I have a number of statutory responsibilities regarding the past. These include the … Read more

Chief Constable at #DignityAndRights conference: Delay increases hurt & erodes trust in PSNI’s ability to deal with past

What is Northern Ireland’s vision for progressing and protecting human rights in Northern Ireland in the years ahead? How do the principles of participation, accountability, transparency, dignity and equality underpin human rights? Dignity and Rights: A framework for the future is a two day conference running in the Stormont Hotel in East Belfast, jointly hosted by a variety of organisations who have worked on human rights and equality issues in Northern Ireland for many years: Age NI, CAJ, Children’s Law … Read more