Informal links with police yield results in Londonderry

A top criminal justice inspector says local police sergeants and officers working with community representatives outside formal police oversight mechanisms in Londonderry have managed to achieve positive results in an area where there has traditionally been low engagement with the PSNI and, previously, the RUC.

Stephen Dolan, an inspector at the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI), said: “To take another example of the use of good management information that led directly to achieving good outcomes, the Derry Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) was notably successful in engaging the police with communities that had previously did not have that level of engagement.

PSNI

PSNI

“That was achieved in a couple of ways. They used meetings outwith the formal PCSP. So, rather than a fairly senior police officer like a chief inspector or superintendent coming and presenting facts and figures to the policing committee - that did happen - the operational and transactional stuff was carried out at local policing partnerships, where you are much more likely to find the local sergeant or an officer of that level dealing with community representatives, some of whom may have been independent members of PCSPs.

“However, it was not necessarily done in that formal process. That was quite successful.”

Mr Dolan made the comments at a meeting of the Stormont Justice Committee, which was considering the CJI ‘Policing and Community Safety Partnerships: A Review of Governance, Delivery and Outcomes’ report.

During the same evidence session the Deputy Chair of the Committee, Raymond McCartney, said that the progress that has been made in terms of policing in the Londonderry area would never have been made without the input of the local policing watchdog system.

He said: “The general observation I would make is that, in my opinion - I can only take it from the experience of the constituency, which is Derry - the nature of policing in Derry would have been different without the way that the District Policing Partnership (DPP) and the PCSP worked. The policing structures would have been different. That is possibly down to the structure, how people go at it and how the local police respond to it.”

He said: “If a local police commander has the attitude that we should suck it for an hour and see, it will never work.”