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Tynwald Commissioner could have responsibility for police complaints 11 March 2008

HOME Affairs Minister Martyn Quayle MHK gave a statement to Tynwald today detailing a new way forward for establishing an independent police complaints process.

He advised Members that the Department of Home Affairs had undertaken a comprehensive review of the options including consulting the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman before bringing forward the new proposal.

Mr Quayle told the Court that the Department had formed the view that the way forward was that the role of Police Complaints Commissioner be combined with that of the proposed Tynwald Commissioner for Administration. This complies with the expressed view of Members in a debate in July 2007 for greater independence of the police complaints commissioner role, and follows the Select Committee recommendations which initiated the review of the procedure.

Mr Quayle said:

‘The Department believes that by combining the role of Police Complaints Commissioner with that foreseen for the Tynwald Commissioner, this will emphasise the independence both in perception and in reality of the person charged with overseeing the investigation of complaints against the police. In addition, combining the responsibilities will enhance the role of the Commissioner and is a far better use of resources than appointing two Commissioners, having two offices and separate investigators, staff etc.’

The Tynwald Commissioner Bill is in the advanced stages of preparation and the DHA hopes that changes can be incorporated to establish responsibility for police complaints within the role.

Mr Quayle said afterwards:

‘The Department is very keen to see the manner of dealing with police complaints resolved as soon as possible to everyone’s satisfaction. Our difficulty has been balancing the desirability for an independent ombudsman and effective investigation of complaints against the need to deliver value for money. In order to ensure this matter is considered further by Honourable Members, I will bring a report to the April Sitting of Tynwald with recommendations.
‘A senior officer from the DHA visited Northern Ireland in autumn last year to ascertain how a police ombudsman system would work best for the Isle of Man. He took the opportunity to canvass the opinion of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Mrs Nuala O’Loan, as to whether or not she felt that, in a smaller jurisdiction such as the Isle of Man it could be justified setting up a separate Isle of Man Police Ombudsman office where there is an average 24 complaints per annum compared to 3,500 in Northern Ireland. The view expressed by the Mrs O’Loan was that such a system could be contained within the role of the proposed Tynwald Commissioner and that this was an eminently sensible way forward and the best practical, workable, and unique solution for the Isle of Man. That resulted in the new proposal outlined today, which will be presented in more detail to Members for their consideration.’

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