Justice Minister Naomi Long has today received Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report, following its thematic inspection into the PSNI’s handling of the funeral of Mr Bobby Storey.
Naomi Long said: “I invited Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) to undertake the inspection following a request from the Northern Ireland Policing Board; a request that came in the wake of the findings outlined the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) statement of 30 March 2021.
“I am grateful to HMIC and his team for their swift response to my request and for producing such a comprehensive report, which has now been published on its website. I have also placed a copy in the NI Assembly library.”
HMICFRS was asked to assess whether the approach taken by the PSNI to the events surrounding the funeral of Mr Bobby Storey was within the parameters of national policing standards in the context of COVID-19 health protection regulations; and to offer relevant learning to assist in policing of COVID restrictions through the ‘four Es’ approach in coming months.
Naomi Long added: “The report concluded that the PSNI prioritised public security over enforcement of COVID-19 regulations at the funeral, an approach HMICFRS said it understood given the likelihood of tensions and because the regulations were confusing. The report also confirmed that HMICFRS saw nothing to suggest that there was bias towards one community or another in the way the PSNI dealt with the funeral.
“The inspectorate did have some criticisms of how the PSNI engaged with the event organisers before, during and after the funeral but emphasised that since these were not especially serious failings, they did not justify individual officers being censured or called upon to resign.”
The Minister concluded: “The report also highlights that all politicians and community leaders have a part to play in working with the police to build and maintain public confidence in policing, and that they should be mindful of the consequences, intended or otherwise, of their comments.
“We have well-established and carefully calibrated arrangements in place for policing oversight and accountability. Those mechanisms are there for a reason. They exist to ensure policing can be held to account when necessary free from any political interference, even when there is a high level of public interest, and that is something which we must all respect.”
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