Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland has published the terms of reference it will use to carry out an inspection of the operational independence of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (OPONI) from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
"The terms of reference for this inspection have been drafted following initial scoping and analysis carried out by Criminal Justice Inspection," said Dr Michael Maguire, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
"The Inspectorate will immediately begin work on this inspection. It will be conducted in line with our inspection methodology and will provide a full, impartial evidence-based analysis of the relationship which exists between these two organisations," said Dr Michael Maguire.
The Chief Inspector stated that he aimed to present his initial findings to the Minister of Justice by the end of June and if required, to carry out further inspection work to inform a fuller report during July and August.
"It is my intention to seek to publish the findings of this inspection when it is complete," Dr Maguire said.
Terms of Reference - An Inspection of the Office of the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland
Introduction and context
The Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland has been asked by the Police Ombudsman to examine the operational independence of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (OPONI) from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) following recent criticism.
This relates to comments concerning the nature of the relationship between the PSNI and the OPONI which constitutes an issue of public confidence in OPONI. The Police Ombudsman requested CJI to consider this issue and to report on the findings.
CJI has a legislative remit to conduct inspections in relation to the Office of the Police Ombudsman under section 46 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 but is prohibited from investigating individual cases.
Aims of the Inspection
The broad aim of this inspection is to:
"Assess the operational independence of the Office of the Police Ombudsman in its relationships with the PSNI and examine any specific issues that could be said to undermine the independence of the Office."
More specifically, the objectives of the inspection are to examine:
- the adequacy of the policy and procedures in place to ensure and support the operational independence of the OPONI;
- the operational activity of the Office in relation to the conduct of investigations, and the nature of the working relationship with the PSNI in the discharge of its duties; and
- the outcomes of the work of the Office including:
- profile of complaints;
- results of complaints;
- satisfaction with complaints process; and
- views of key stakeholders.
The methodology will follow that of a full CJI Inspection. The inspection will be based upon the CJI inspection framework which is available on the CJI website - www.cjini.org
Initial scoping and analysis has informed the production of these terms of reference. Analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data will inform the overall assessment of the operational independence of the OPONI.
The fieldwork will comprise:
· a consideration of policies and procedures within the OPONI;
· interviews with staff at the OPONI together with examination and consideration of statistical and other documentation (including the internal complaints process);
· interviews with PSNI personnel and examination and consideration of documentation as necessary;
· a review of a sample of the OPONI complaints files selected by CJI Inspectors and associated correspondence; and
· interviews with key stakeholders of the OPONI.
Fieldwork will take place between May and June 2011. The aim will be to produce the interim inspection report for delivery to the Minister of Justice on or before 30 June in line with CJI’s legislative remit. Any further inspection work which may be required to inform a fuller report if necessary will be carried out during July and August.