The Policing Board have provided the following article as a means of creating discussion around community policing and human rights. Fair Cop is an independent site and its goal is to provide a forum in which community members can talk to and debate with key figures like Assistant Chief Constable Kerr and David Ford.
Whilst you are entitled to have your human rights protected, you must also respect other people’s human rights and there may be occasions when the government or police are justified in interfering with, or restricting, your rights.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has an important role to play in protecting and upholding the human rights of all members of the public: how well do you think it carries out this task?
How well the PSNI protects and upholds people’s human rights is something the Northern Ireland Policing Board (the Policing Board) is required to assess on an ongoing basis. Recently the Policing Board carried out a review into policing with children and young people from a human rights point of view. As part of that review the Policing Board considered:
• the policing of anti-social behaviour, including anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) and a consideration of whether personal details of those involved in anti-social behaviour should be published in the media (a practice known as ‘naming and shaming’);
• police practice regarding the dispersal of groups of young people, public order and crowd control, stop and search and other powers to control the activities of children and young people; and
• alternative ways in which young people can be held accountable if they have committed a crime (as opposed to being brought before a court and prosecuted), for example, referral to a community restorative justice scheme. ‘Restorative justice’ is where a person who has caused harm is made to acknowledge that they have done wrong and they must make amends to the victim. This contrasts with the traditional method of ‘catching and convicting’ people who have committed crimes which focuses on guilt: this does not necessarily make the guilty person see the error of their ways; and it does not take into account the needs or wishes of the victim.
The reason the Policing Board chose to include anti-social behaviour in its review was because many people wrongly assume that it is mostly young people who are responsible for anti-social behaviour: the Policing Board wanted to challenge that opinion and show that this is an unfair stereotype.
As part of the review process the Policing Board considered the report* and film* created by Achieve Enterprises, in association with the Institute for Conflict Research, which highlighted the experiences of young people from across Northern Ireland and recorded their views about how policing might be improved. That research found that although some young people experience what they believe to be hostility and stereotyping from the police, many of those young people believe the police have improved in recent years.
The Policing Board has today reported* on the findings from its human rights review of policing with children and young people. In the report the Policing Board highlights areas in which police practice could be improved but it also recognised substantial work the PSNI has carried out to ensure that the best interests of children and young people are at the heart of policing strategies.
In the upcoming months the Policing Board will discuss the findings of its human rights review with the PSNI who will then take steps to improve its service delivery to children and young people. To assist with these discussions the Policing Board welcomes your views on human rights and policing: do you think the police protect the human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland in an equal and fair manner? What are your experiences of policing? Have you any suggestions as to how the police might go about improving the service they provide for children and young people?
Beyond the Margins
View/download the report