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Local Judicial Review - Police Ombudsman

Systemic underfunding of Police Ombudsman impeding investigation of complaints

Bell’s (Patricia) Application [2017] NIQB 38

Mr Justice Maguire has ruled that persistent government underfunding of the Police Ombudsman’s office is impeding investigations of complaints against police within a reasonable time. 

His verdict was delivered in a legal challenge by the family of Patrick Murphy who was murdered in 1982.  No one was ever convicted of the killing, believed to have been carried out by loyalist paramilitaries.  The family lodged complaints with the Police Ombudsman about the handling of the murder investigation in 2004 and in 2009.  However, in 2014 they were told that reduced staffing levels meant the Ombudsman’s investigation would not be complete until 2025.

The judge held that the Department of Justice had acted unlawfully by failing to provide a sufficient level of funding to enable the Ombudsman to carry out its statutory obligation to investigate the family’s complaint within a reasonable time.  Mr Justice Maguire commented that the

“…source of the problem besetting the police ombudsman’s office lies with the failure of government.” 

Click here to read an article by BBC News.

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