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Policing Board members should not get involved in operational policing matters – Chambers

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Policing Board representative, Alan Chambers MLA, has voiced his concern at recent comments made by two of his Board colleagues which stray into operational policing matters.

Alan Chambers MLA said:

“I am concerned at public statements by two members of the Policing Board - Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein and Dolores Kelly of the SDLP - in relation to a recent High Court ruling regarding the legality of warrants issued to the PSNI to search the homes and offices of two journalists.

“Dolores Kelly was quoted as saying ‘police made a huge error of judgement’ and Gerry Kelly called on the Chief Constable of the PSNI to drop the investigation into the alleged theft of documents from the offices of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (PONI).

“The advice contained in the Policing Board Code of Conduct for Board Members states that members must consult with the Chair or Chief Executive prior to accepting any requests to intervene or mediate in issues that could be considered operational policing matters as it may be perceived as a conflict of interest with the position of a Board Member and their accountability role.

“If such permission was granted by either the Chair or Chief Executive of the Board I would certainly challenge it, as the comments from Gerry Kelly are a clear example of interfering in an operational matter. This is not the legal role of the Policing Board. Dolores Kelly’s comments also stray into this territory.

“Operational matters and decisions taken by the PSNI are entirely the responsibility of the Chief Constable. Holding the Chief Constable to account for his operational actions is the role of the Policing Board and I believe that these public comments from two members of the Board are a clear attempt to interfere in and influence operational decisions, and are extremely unwise.”

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