Effective working relationship ‘critical’ to PSNI – OPONI disclosure arrangements

02/04/2020
Chief Inspector Jacqui Durkin has called on the PSNI and Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (OPONI)  to work hard together to strengthen trust and repair damage to public confidence, following the PSNI’s failure to disclose sensitive information linked to an historic case in late 2018.

Ms Durkin stated it was critical effective working relationships between the police and Police Ombudsman’s Office were in place after publishing CJI’s independent review into the how the police disclose sensitive information to the Police Ombudsman’s office in Troubles-related cases.
 
“I have thought carefully about publishing this report given the current public health crisis and challenges for everyone, including the PSNI and the OPONI. However, it is important to make the findings of this independent review public in a timely manner and maintain a focus on the future,” said the Chief Inspector.
 
“Building and sustaining an effective working relationship should be a key strategic priority for the Chief Constable and the Police Ombudsman.”
 
She continued: “I welcome the work undertaken to date but there is more work to be done. This includes completing work I understand is underway to revise the current Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that governs the working relationship between the PSNI and OPONI.  This needs to be finished within the next 12 months.
 
“I have also recommended the OPONI procedures for viewing and reporting the material disclosed by the PSNI should be reviewed to provide corporate assurance all material relevant to the investigation was identified and captured,” she said.
 
Ms Durkin recommended the PSNI must carry out an audit to establish what historical material it has, where its located and identify material at risk of deterioration.
 
Work also needs to be undertaken to clarify the position around the PSNI providing OPONI staff with unfettered access to police legacy systems.