Northern Ireland

Police Ombudsman's Office 'confidence restored' - CJI

Confidence in the independence of the Police Ombudsman's Office has been "fully restored", an external review has found.

Criminal Justice Inspection's (CJI) findings come three years after it delivered a scathing verdict on the office's handling of historic cases.

It found the office's operational independence had been lowered.

The office was only allowed to resume such investigations 18 months ago after a follow-up review by CJI.

Many of the cases involved allegations of collusion.

'Withstand buffeting'

The ombudsman's office is responsible for scrutinising all aspects of the PSNI, and its predecessor, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

"Inspectors returned in July to carry out a further independent evaluation of the quality assurance processes," said Brendan McGuigan, chief inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

He added: "On the basis of the evidence reviewed by the independent inspection team, the inspectorate is satisfied the systems and process in place can withstand buffeting and challenge, and the independence of the office has been restored."

The review found that the provision of sensitive material by the police had worked in accordance with the agreed protocol.

While the police ombudsman issued judicial review proceedings in June in an attempt to force the PSNI to hand over sensitive intelligence information, the report noted that these "recent difficulties" had since been resolved.

It found that properly controlled communication with interested parties and structured factual accuracy checks were also beneficial.

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