167 complaints against police officers in Fermanagh in the last year

Published: 17 Sep 2012 12:30

THERE were 167 allegations against police officers in Fermanagh in the last year according to figures released by the Police Ombudsman's Office.

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The number of officers based at stations within the county who have attracted complaints has risen year on year from 72 officers in 2009/10 to 86 in 2011/12.

Last year's figure represents a three per cent reduction in the number of complaints compared to two years previously. This represents a seven per cent reduction across Northern Ireland as a whole. 81 per cent of all complaints in the county over the past three years relate to incidents which happened in the area served by Enniskillen station.

The number of complaints against police officers in Fermanagh has been running at an average of 99 per year over the past three years - rising from 91 in 2009/10 to 118 the following year, before settling back down to 88 in 2010/11.

Representatives from the Police Ombudsman's Office outlined facts and figures from a statistical report at last week's meeting of the newly-formed Fermanagh Police and Community Safety Partnership.

Members heard that during the past three years oppressive behaviour, which last year accounted for 42 per cent of all complaints in Fermanagh, has been the greatest proportion allegation during the last three years. Complaints about failure in duty in Fermanagh last year amounted to 31 per cent while incivility fell from 17 per cent of allegations in 2009/10 to 13 per cent last year. Allegations about the use of weapons or other police equipment rose to eight per cent. Many of these 13 allegations related to the use of handcuffs.

The highest proportion of allegations received in 2009/10 and 2010/11 arose from incidents occurring on a street, but in 2011/12 a greater proportion arose from incidents at police stations; 143 at Enniskillen station, two at Irvinestown station, nine at Kesh station and 13 at Lisnaskea station.

Police enquires accounted for 16 per cent of all complaints 2009/10 -- the single biggest factor for that year.

During 2011/12, criminal investigations, arrests and traffic incidents were the biggest factors giving rise to complaints -- accounting between them for more than half of all complaints (23 per cent, 19 per cent and 15 per cent respectively).

43 per cent of recommendations for allegation closure in Fermanagh during the past three financial years were categorised as not substantiated as there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

A further 18 per cent were closed as a result of complainant non co-operation.

Four percent of closure recommendations proposed that action be taken against individual officers while two per cent of closure recommendations were categorised as "substantiated - no further action". This category includes situations in which there is evidence that a police officer has acted inappropriately, but there is insufficient evidence to identify a particular officer.

Gary Hewitt from the Police Ombudsman's Office told members that complaints in Fermanagh were "very low" in comparison to other areas.

Police Ombudsman Research Officer Mary Farrelly told members: "These figures are somewhat different to the wider picture across Northern Ireland, where 31 per cent of allegations against police were about oppressive behaviour, 38 per cent about failures in duty and 12 per cent concerned alleged incivility."

Speaking at the meeting, Inspector Roy Robinson thanked the Ombudsman's Office for the presentation and added: "This makes us accountable to the public and offers protection to our officers as well. I would like to see the day when cameras are fitted to our officers as well."

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