This morning Relatives for Justice received the following communication from the Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire. This follows a front page story in the Irish News regarding his office’s ability to investigate the recruitment of informers.
As someone whom we view as a key stakeholder in the police complaints system, I felt it was important that I contact you following concerns raised this week that my Office will not deal with complaints about police attempts to recruit informants. This is most definitely not the case and I am keen to ensure there is no confusion on the matter.
There is no aspect of a police officer’s conduct which this Office cannot investigate – and that includes the processes and conduct of officers approaching an individual to become a police informant. The police of course have the right to ask someone if they would be willing to become an informant and a legal and properly authorised approach is not in itself a matter of police misconduct. However the rationale of an approach, its adherence to procedures, the number of such approaches to an individual, where they took place and the manner of these exchanges are all issues which if not handled properly could amount to police misconduct and which we would deal with.
None of these issues are outside the remit of my Office. I will be issuing further guidance to my staff in this regard.
In conclusion, I would be grateful if you remind members of the public you work with that if they have any concerns about incident involving police officers, they should contact my Office. We have experienced staff they can talk to.
Dr Michael Maguire