Professional Standards Complaints and discipline

Under section 3(3)(c)(i) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 the Board must keep itself informed as to the measures in place to deal with PSNI complaints and disciplinary proceedings; and to monitor trends and patterns in complaints. This work is taken forward by the Performance Committee.

The Committee has a key role in monitoring professional standards. In order to conduct this work, a Professional Standards Monitoring Framework was developed in 2011 which provides the Committee with a structure to undertake their key role and to address broader quality of service concerns identified by Members. In accordance with the Framework, the Committee monitors the outcome of PSNI internal disciplinary procedures to ensure that lessons are learned and best practice is promoted across the service.

Within the PSNI, the Discipline Branch investigates internal allegations of misconduct and deals with matters which come to its attention. Where an allegation of misconduct is made, officers will be measured against the standards set out in the PSNI Code of Ethics. The Committee meets regularly with senior officers from the PSNI’s Discipline Branch and with the Deputy Chief Constable (who has responsibility for this area of work) to discuss complaints and misconduct issues.

The Board is required under the Royal Ulster Constabulary (Appeals) Regulations 2000  and the Police Appeals Tribunal Regulations (NI) 2016 to administer the police appeals tribunal process and facilitate the tribunal’s hearings. The Police Appeals Tribunal (PAT) is an independent body established under legislation to consider appeals brought by police officers against the finding and or sanction imposed by a misconduct or unsatisfactory performance panel.

The Committee also works closely with the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland which was established under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 to provide an independent and impartial police complaints system. The Committee meets with the Police Ombudsman and senior officials from the Ombudsman’s Office regularly throughout the year to discuss trends and patterns in complaints and other topical issues as they arise (including, for example, public statements and other reports published by the Police Ombudsman).

In monitoring the quality of interactions between the police and the public, internal disciplinary proceedings and breaches of the Code of Ethics, the Committee is able to assess the extent to which individual officers are paying due regard to human rights principles and the extent to which a human rights culture exists within PSNI. That monitoring work is reported upon annually in the Human Rights Annual Reports.