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Policing in Northern IrelandDelivering the New Beginning?$
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Desmond Rea and Robin Masefield

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381502

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381502.001.0001

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Accountability – In Theory and Practice

Accountability – In Theory and Practice

(p.87) Chapter Five Accountability – In Theory and Practice
Policing in Northern Ireland

Desmond Rea

Robin Masefield

Liverpool University Press

This chapter addresses the key principle of accountability ie the Policing Board holding the Chief Constable to account for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It reprises the Commission’s recommendations, noting their use of the term ‘operational responsibility’ meant the Chief Constable should be answerable to the Board for the conduct of any operational matter after the event. The chapter details the provisions in the legislation, including the powers of the Board to require a report on any matters and to instigate an inquiry, and ultimately to call upon any senior officer to retire ‘in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness’. It also brings out the role of the Board in supporting the Service toward the end of effective, efficient and impartial policing. The changes to the legislation made in the subsequent Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2003 are described, as is the tripartite policing structure including the role of the responsible Government Department, and later the impact of Sinn Fein’s joining the Board. The chapter sets out the importance of the Board’s public sessions to display transparent accountability, and includes a number of illustrative examples such as hate crime, crimes against the elderly, anti-social behaviour, drugs and knife crime.

Keywords:   Accountability, Operational responsibility, Public session, Policing Board Inquiries, Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2003

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