Mann: Clarification Sought on Police Amendment Proposals

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

The Celtic League has written to the Isle of Man Department of Home Affairs about the consultation announced this week on a new Police (Amendment) Bill 2015.

The League is seeking additional information which they say is germane to making the consultation meaningful.

They also question the narrow window for consultation given the wide range of evidence on the issues driving the proposed changes which need to be considered and the very essential nature of the public service function the police service provide.

The letter to the Department is set out below:

The Chief Executive
Mr Mark Kelly
Department of Home Affairs
Holmfield
88 Woodbourne Road
Douglas
Isle of Man

Dear Sir,

The Celtic League you may (or may not) be aware is an accredited Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) of the UN Departmental of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC).

Part of our ECOSOC NGO ‘fields of activity’ include, Criminal Justice and Human Rights. I therefore read with interest the recent document released by your Department entitled ‘Consultation on the Police (Amendment) Bill 2015’.

I note some of the motivations driving the proposed changes are outlined in the Ministers Statement (Preamble) and these are further emphasised on pages 4 – 6.

However to better inform ourselves ahead of a possible submission on the Bill it would be useful if you could provide some additional clarification. I will number our queries for ease of response.

1) What is the number of police officers at present and what was the figure ten years ago (a breakdown by rank would be helpful)?

2) What is the number of civilian support, clerical staff etc directly attached the Police at present and what was the number ten years ago?

3) I note the Ministers comment: “Firstly, the financial climate is such that we must determine which services are essential and which are not, and can therefore be dispensed with. Secondly, if the consensus is that certain functions of the Constabulary are essential, could they be performed in a different manner or by other people?”. Given this statement does the DHA currently have any idea of what police ‘services’ it wishes to see ‘dispensed with’ (in relation to this latter point for the benefit of those responding to the consultation an Appendix setting out current police functions in their entirety would have been helpful)?

4) Further to question 3: The employment of additional civilians in what were previously police posts raises the question of what the ‘core functions’ of the police would be i.e. what are the tasks that can only be performed by police officers? Has the DHA determined a priority list of such core functions?

5) Given that in the United Kingdom the HMIC has taken a key role in monitoring and assessing the consequences of the roll-out of civilianisation in that country’s police forces has the HMIC on any of its (invited) inspections of the Manx Force expressed a view on civilianisation?

6) Has the DHA sought a view from the HMIC about the impact (positive/negative) on police functions of civilianisation?

7) Given that part of the preamble to the Bill sets out possible new powers for the Chief Constable to ‘self-refer’ disciplinary matters has discussion taken place with the Police Federation about the proposed change?

8) In relation to 7 above has the DHA or the Chief Constable considered the implications from a human rights point of view of a ‘self-refer’ situation that resulted in disciplinary action against a police officer? In such an instance would it be human rights compliant for the Chief Constable to determine a penalty over an action he had in effect initiated?

9) In relation to the ‘appointment of incumbent Chief Constables’. Has the DHA experienced problems in the past over this i.e. are/were there any circumstances in which the extension of a Chief Constables period of Office is questionable?

10) Given the necessarily sensitive and confidential nature of police work does the DHA envisage that any civilianised tasks will be undertaken by direct labour or would it be the intention to franchise specific tasks to private sector operators?

11) Finally: a) Given that to do the consultation justice the background we have sought above is necessary. b) Given that there is quite comprehensive, but necessarily time consuming evidence, on police civilianisation data available particularly from the UK . c) Given that research may be needed on the powers of Chief Constables to self-refer (via reference to other jurisdictions). Does the DHA believe that the window for consultation is sufficient i.e. are you seeking meaningful input or paying lip service to consultation?

Trusting you are able to clarify all (or some) of the point above.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information

A preamble to the consultative document by Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK is set out below. This outlines the main thrust of the proposals which mainly lean towards a civilianisation of police services.

Issue date: 2nd June 2015

Statement by the Minister for Home Affairs

The impact the Isle of Man Constabulary has on our quality of life in the Island is significant and the scope and manner in which it performs its functions is very important. A few key factors are behind this Bill.

Firstly, the financial climate is such that we must determine which services are essential and which are not, and can therefore be dispensed with. Secondly, if the consensus is that certain functions of the Constabulary are essential, could they be performed in a different manner or by other people? What is certain is that resources are finite and the Constabulary, as with all our public services, must continue to adapt and change if it is to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Another factor behind the Bill is the Island’s reputation as a well regulated jurisdiction that meets international standards of conduct. This includes having an accountable police force with a complaints system that enables all aspects of the conduct of the police force to be investigated and not just the performance of officers in individual cases. The Bill proposes to empower the Chief Constable to refer (“self-refer”) matters that may not have been the subject of a complaint by an individual but nevertheless should be investigated. Examples include the discharge of a firearm by an officer or where death or serious injury occurs, whether in police custody or after contact with the police.

Finally, the Bill clarifies the law so it is possible to reappoint an incumbent Chief Constable.

An Impact Assessment and a copy of the draft Bill are attached to this consultation document. If you have any views on the proposals outlined within those documents, you are invited to send them to me, via the Department’s Legislation Manager, at the Department of Home Affairs, 88 Woodbourne Road , Douglas , IM2 3AP , by Wednesday 15th July 2015. I can assure you that any views you do express will be considered with the utmost care.

Hon. Juan Watterson, BA(Hons), ACA, MHK
Minister for Home Affairs
2nd June 2015

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

03/06/15

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)

ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.

The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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