Police Reform in the Wake of the Troubles: An Evaluation of Human Rights in the Police Service of Northern Ireland since 2001



Fallon, Monika L

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The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was created as part of the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement to overhaul the policing system in Northern Ireland and create a police service that was representative of and accountable to the people. The Independent Commission on Policing was formed and published a report outlining recommendations for policies that were consistent with human rights standards, many of which were accepted by the PSNI and put into use. This study examines these policies in order to judge the extent to which human rights were incorporated into the policies of the PSNI since its establishment in 2001. It identifies policies that are both historically relevant and human rights-oriented, and discusses their implementation, success, and compliance with international human rights standards. Using relevant literature and a combination of methodologies, an analysis process was created to examine each policy’s effectiveness. The history of policing during the conflict in Northern Ireland is a complex one, involving accusations of police misconduct, inquiries examining allegations of police collusion with paramilitary organizations, and a sentiment of prejudice against the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. These were examined in detail in the course of this thesis, not only to shed light onto the need for police reform during the peace process, but also to expose a number of policies lacking proper protection for human rights so as to identify those policies in the PSNI and examine how human rights have been incorporated into them. It was found that many of the failed policies of the RUC were in fact reframed in a human rights context by the PSNI, and that the PSNI has gone to great lengths to ensure the compliance of every aspect of the police service with international policing and human rights standards. Although this study does not have the resources or the authority to make recommendations for changes in the policies that have not been fully implemented or are not yet 100% effective, these areas were addressed in the conclusion section of this thesis as aspects that require further attention by the PSNI, the organizations it is accountable to, and the government of Northern Ireland.



Northern Ireland, Policing, The Troubles, Human rights policing, Human rights, PSNI