Sinn Féin - On Your Side

New Oversight Commissioner must now oversee Patten changes

10 December, 2003


Sinn Féin Policing and Justice Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly commenting on the 9th and final report of the outgoing Oversight Commissioner Tom Constantine said:

"This 9th report is difficult to compare in detail with the 8th report published in September 2003 because the format has changed. The last report helped us pinpoint precisely what recommendations were or were not being faithfully implemented, whereas in this report that sort of detail is missing. Nonetheless, areas of concern remain for the Oversight Commissioner, including matters for which the Oversight Commissioner's report states that ".. it is increasingly difficult to explain the lack of resolution in certain important recommendations".

"In relation to Special Branch the Office of the Oversight Commissioner has received a plan from the PSNI (on November 15th). However we also know that the PSNI are still discussing what to do about Special Branch. ACC Roy Toner who is responsible for change management in the PSNI stated that the plan submitted is for the incorporation of the old Special Branch within the new Crime Department.

"What we don't need is the continuation of the force within a force. There are stark reminders that Special Branch has moved en masse from the RUC to the PSNI. In a recent court case (Abernathy) a state forensic scientist stated that she has been approached by the RUC/PSNI over a 7-year period to interfere or collude in the interference with evidence. In another recent case, involving a new section of the Special Branch known as REMIT, the case collapsed because there was deliberate contamination of evidence.

"In the 8th report from the Commissioner, Tom Constantine noted that the section in the Patten report dealing with the 'Structure of the Police Service' has 11 specific recommendations of which there has been non compliance in 10. Tom Constantine has made it clear that ".. the importance of the issues involving the structure of Special Branch are such that failure to implement the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Policing in a timely manner can significantly impact on the perception in the overall programme of police reform.

"In his latest report many of the matters highlighted as areas for concern in the last report by the Oversight Commissioner, some of which are very significant like the Human Rights practices and training; register of interests; tracking complaint trends; demilitarisation and decentralisation, remain outstanding. There is also no system for the early identification of serial abuse by members of the PSNI.

"Sinn Féin have been at the forefront of driving policing changes. In the last period of negotiation we made further substantial progress. We intend to finish that job. In this context the continuing job of the new Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchin

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