Facebook Jail: RUC/PSNI get locked out over photo

The police in Northern Ireland were locked out of all their main Facebook accounts for 24 hours after a photo breached the company’s community standards.

The picture contained bank notes and a small bag of drugs.

Facebook said it contravened its standards on guns, drugs and other regulated goods.

The PSNI asked Facebook for the social media post to be reviewed. The BBC has contacted Facebook for a comment.

Skip Twitter post by @PSNIABC
All of our district Facebook pages are experiencing a temporary lock out currently. We’re working on a resolution, but in the meantime expect an uplift in Twitter activity! pic.twitter.com/tqpAi0Cze2

— Arma, Banb & Crai (@PSNIABC) February 13, 2019
End of Twitter post by @PSNIABC
In a post on Twitter,

PSNI Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon said: “All our district Facebook pages are experiencing a temporary lock out currently.

“We’re working on a resolution, but in the meantime expect an uplift in Twitter activity.”

Mid Ulster PSNI responded: “Feeling your pain, all our Facebook pages are locked out too. We’re blaming you lot though, you broke it!”

The PSNI regularly uses social media to update followers on arrests, drugs seizures and to issue missing persons appeals.

A spokesperson told the BBC that following a review, Facebook subsequently contended the picture did not breach community standards.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story




“You cannot have new policing alongside MI5. One contradicts the other, on both sides of the border”!!!

Chief Constable George Hamilton’s tweet just after noon on Monday January 28th was, to say the least, something of a surprise.

At 51, it announced his retirement plans by the end of June this year; five years after his appointment to the most-senior rank in the PSNI.

Just days earlier, at a meeting on the 24th, the Policing Board had unanimously agreed to offer him a three-year extension to his contract.

Now, that Board is having to consider the process to appoint the next Chief Constable, after Flanagan, Orde, Baggott and Hamilton, the fifth in the post-Good Friday Agreement and post-Patten era.

By the summer, we will see sweeping changes across the ‘new policing’ frame, not just a new Chief Constable, but a new Police Ombudsman and a new chair of the Policing Board.

Is there a better time to take stock?

The Patten Report of 1999 with its pages of reforms has not achieved the depoliticisation of policing and, almost two decades on, the ‘new beginning’ remains a work in slow progress. A reboot is needed.

You cannot have new policing alongside MI5. One contradicts the other.

Nor can you have new policing with an unresolved past. Politics is still a part of policing. Just look at the shaping of the past process, both in its design and intention.

Can there be a new beginning without firstly addressing the issue of amnesty?

On a separate issue, did Patten predict a dissident threat now entering into its third decade?

“Patten envisaged an architecture within which new policing would emerge and be sustained,” Dr Jonny Byrne of Ulster University told this website.

“Unfortunately that societal and political transformation has yet to take place,” he continued – “with the consequence that the wider policing project has stalled.”

If the nationalist/republican community applied its mind and energy there would be a much better chance of bringing that dissident activity to an end through argument and persuasion rather than intelligence and security.

On this issue, however, there has been a lack of leadership. It is a blind spot.

Hamiton’s retirement decision should not now be reduced to a discussion on the choice of the next Chief Constable but, more importantly, what is next?

In a recent statement, the Police Federation highlighted budget pressures, an unprecedented focus on legacy matters, Brexit and that continuing ‘severe’ threat posed by dissident republicans.

Legacy is the poison in both the political and the policing systems.

Many years ago, Hugh Orde recognised this when he spoke of the need to close the book. Hamilton did likewise when, in his first major speech as Chief Constable in September 2014, he highlighted the dangers of ignoring, hesitating and procrastinating on the past and spoke also of the need for challenging conversations, including the one initiated in that period by Attorney General John Larkin on drawing a line under conflict-era investigations.

A new Chief Constable stuck in the legacy war will mean a continuation of the battles over the past and yet more damage to that project we have been calling new policing for the best part of twenty years.

Hamilton’s decision has given this project another chance to refocus.

On his retirement tweet, one of his colleagues told me: “Nobody saw it coming”, but within that tweet, he left space until June for people to think, not just about the choice of the next Chief Constable, but the big conversations that need to happen within the nationalist community on the dissident threat and across the communities on legacy.

Politics has failed policing. In this Brexit moment, is anyone listening?

With many thanks to: Dr Eamonn Mallie for the original posting

George Hamilton, Chief Constable, announces retirement

Chief Constable George Hamilton was appointed chief constable in June 2014. The North of Ireland’s top police officer is to retire later this year.

George Hamilton, who was appointed chief constable in June 2014, said he informed the Policing Board of his intention to leave the service in June.

A police officer for nearly 34 years, he said the greatest privilege of his career “had been to serve as chief constable”.

He said NI was a “much more peaceful and progressive society” than it was when he began his police career.

The announcement has come as a surprise to the chief constable’s senior colleagues and members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

He had been expected to accept a three-year contract extension that was offered when he met the board last week.

His decision to decline the offer followed discussions with his wife and four children over the Christmas period.

Sources say George Hamilton broke the news to his senior command team this morning and then informed the board chairman, Anne Connolly.

He told them he is retiring to spend more time with his family.

No current member of the PSNI command team can apply to succeed Mr Hamilton as chief constable.

The current eligibility criteria states that an applicant must have completed a national senior command course and served at least two years in a police force outside Northern Ireland.

After joining the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) – the predecessor of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – in 1985, he worked in a number of roles including a stint as assistant chief constable of Strathclyde Police.

“I am privileged and humbled to have led the dedicated officers and staff of the PSNI and to have worked in partnership with so many people committed to public service in Northern Ireland and beyond,” said Mr Hamilton.

He said that there were challenges in the months and years ahead “but we have overcome greater challenges in the past and there is nothing that cannot be achieved if the police, our partners and the community continue to work together”.

Image caption
Anne Connolly says the board needs to put in place a process for the appointment of a new chief constable

Anne Connolly, chairwoman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, said the board respected Mr Hamilton’s decision not to accept a three-year contract extension last week.

She said recruitment for a new chief constable would be considered at a meeting on 6 February.

The Policing Board was established as part of policing reforms after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which helped bring about the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

George Hamilton’s police CV
1985: Joined Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
1994: Promoted to RUC inspector and seconded to England for development programmes
1997: Returned to uniform patrol in NI and subsequently worked on Patten policing reforms
2002: Worked as a senior detective in PSNI’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
2007: Appointed district commander for south and east Belfast
2009: Joined Strathclyde Police as assistant chief constable
2011: Returned to NI as PSNI assistant chief constable
2014: Appointed PSNI’s fourth chief constable

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

RUC/PSNI appeals for more riot-trained police officers from rest of UK ahead of Brexit- report – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk


Coleraine pub fight: Four RUC/PSNI officers disciplined

The fight broke out in a bar in the loyalist area of Coltrane in 2015

Four RUC/PSNI officers have been disciplined for their involvement in a fight in a bar in Coleraine in 2015.

An investigating officer has also been disciplined.

The fight started in the toilets of a pub in Coleraine and continued in an alleyway outside after those involved were asked to leave.

Four members of the public were arrested at the scene after off-duty officers made 999 calls. Two others were arrested in the following weeks.

They were charged with public order offences and a file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

The off duty officers, who were initially treated as witnesses, were then interviewed as potential suspects after allegations were made against them.

The Northern Ireland Ombudsman found that the investigating officer failed to properly challenge the off-duty officers about inconsistencies in their accounts.

The PSNI accepted the findings of the Ombudsman.

‘Internal disciplinary process’
It was also found that the investigating officer failed to make full use of CCTV and mobile phone footage and was a month late in submitting the file, which meant the officers could not be considered for prosecution.

The investigating officer denied showing favouritism towards the off-duty officers.

After completing its enquiries, the Ombudsman’s office submitted files to the PPS. It directed that the four off-duty officers should not be prosecuted for attempting to pervert the course of justice and that neither they or the investigating officer should be prosecuted for misconduct in public office.

It also suggested that while the test for prosecution had been met in relation to the officer who improperly accessed police records, a disciplinary sanction would be more appropriate.

PSNI Chief Inspector Mark McClarence said the police and the public expect police officers to behave “professionally, ethically and with the utmost integrity at all times, whether on or off duty”.

“Where it is perceived that conduct falls short of these high standards, it is right that officers should face an impartial, thorough investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s office,” he added.

“We self-referred this incident to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for an independent review of the investigation.

“The PSNI accepted the findings of the Ombudsman in this case and implemented an internal disciplinary process which resulted in the officers receiving a misconduct outcome.”

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

Civilian detention officer given suspended sentence for misconduct

David McGowan died in a cell at Lisburn police station in May 2014

A civilian detention officer working at a police station on the night a man died in custody has been handed a six month suspended sentence.

Alexander McAllister was on duty at Lisburn police station when David McGowan, 28, died in May 2014.

He was working with Sgt Brian McKenna, who was cleared of manslaughter in October.

Appearing at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, McAllister was found guilty of misconduct over a two-hour period.

The 62-year-old was given a six month sentence, which is suspended for 12 months.

Jury shown final hours of mans life
Girlfriend’s custody death trial evidence
Alexander McAllister was charged after a Police Ombudsman investigation was carried out into the death of Mr McGowan.

Mr McGowan was arrested along with his girlfriend outside a flat in east Belfast on the evening of 29 May 2014.

Whilst held, David McGowan was said to have had “white powder in his mouth” before vomiting.

An ambulance was called two minutes later and although CPR was administered, Mr McGowan was pronounced dead at 01:47 BST.

A post-mortem concluded he died from an “upper airway obstruction due to inhalation of gastric contents, due to toxic effects of alcohol and drugs”.

During the trial, CCTV footage from Lisburn Custody Suite was played to the jury, while McAllister gave evidence and spent several days in the witness box.

Judge David McFarland spoke of a series of failures from Alexander McAllister, saying his misconduct was “reckless rather than deliberate”.

The court heard of one failure where McAllister did not tell a doctor at the station about a claim that David McGowan had taken up to 40 tablets.

Another failure outlined by Judge McFarland was McAllister disobeying a request by the custody sergeant to check on Mr McGowan after concerns that he was struggling to breathe.

The judge said that had this check been carried out, evidence of vomiting could have been observed and could have led to intervention.

“Police failures”
The family of David McGowan attended the trial of Alexander McAllister, later releasing a statement describing their “frustration”.

They said: “that David would be alive today had he been treated humanely whilst in police custody.

“The McGowan family consider that the extent of police failures and the gravity of the consequences are not reflected in the conviction and sentence handed down today”.

McAllister’s lawyer acknowledged the suffering of the McGowan family.

“He carries the burden that something happened on his watch. He is carrying a psychological wound,” he told the court.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.

More on this story

Police custody sergeant cleared of manslaughter 17 October

2018 Jury shown final hours of man’s life in custody 26 September 2018

Girlfriend’s custody death trial evidence 24 September 2018

RUC/PSNI told to focus on Loughinisland Massacre and not journalists

Barry McCaffrey (left) and Trevor Birney before entering Musgrave Street RUC/PSNI Station today. Picture by Hugh Russell

A journalist arrested over the alleged theft of a document that appeared in his film on a notorious Troubles massacre had branded the ongoing investigation a “complete farce”.

Trevor Birney heavily criticised the police as he and fellow documentary maker Barry McCaffrey were bailed from custody after failing to get the probe halted.

The award-winning reporters were arrested in August over the alleged theft of confidential material from the offices of Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland Dr Michael Maguire.

It is alleged the material appeared in their No Stone Unturned film on the 1994 loyalist paramilitary massacre of six Catholic men in the Co Down village of Loughinisland.

The reporters returned for pre-arranged meetings with officers in Belfast today, during which their lawyers argued that the investigation should be stopped.

That bid came after Dr Maguire’s office denied ever making a complaint of theft against the men.

Police rejected the application on Friday, bailing the men to return to face further questions on March 1 next year.

Loughinisland massacre journalists have both won justice awards in distinguished careers

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“I think this is quite clearly punitive and an attempt to try to restrict both myself and Barry and the work that we are trying to do and I think it’s just been another very frustrating day, not only for ourselves but for all our colleagues and for those we are trying to work for.”

Six men were killed when Ulster Volunteer Force gunmen opened fire inside the Heights Bar in Loughinisland in June 1994. The victims were football fans who had gathered to watch the Republic of Ireland play in the World Cup.

The 2017 documentary by Mr Birney and Mr McCaffrey broke new ground by publicly naming those it said were suspects. No one has ever been convicted for the killings.

In a landmark report in 2016, Dr Maguire concluded that the security forces colluded with the Loughinisland killers.

The PSNI, concerned about conflict of interest issues, asked Durham Constabulary to probe the alleged theft of the document after the film was released last year.

Durham’s chief constable Mike Barton and the Ombudsman are currently at odds over whether a crime was actually reported to police.

The Ombudsman’s office has denied making a “complaint of theft” to the RUC/PSNI

UVF gunmen opened fire at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, Co Down during a World Cup game in June 1994.

Mr Barton has rejected the assertion, insisting a report was made by the Ombudsman’s office, followed up by a “written statement of complaint by a member of their senior management team”.

The journalists were released after being questioned for 14 hours in August to return to police custody on Friday.

They were applauded by a crowd of around 60 journalists who gathered to show solidarity as they arrived at the Musgrave Street station in the city centre.

The men emerged three hours later.

Outside, Mr McCaffrey questioned why no Durham Police officers were involved in the meetings, despite the force being supposedly in charge of the investigation.

Mr Birney said he and his colleague had been overwhelmed by the support.

“Ultimately this is all about the Loughinisland families,” he added.

“This really isn’t about us, but I think this farce today has just added to their grief and added to their concern that they are like corks on the ocean being bobbed about by police forces both here and in Durham.”

The six victims were killed as they watched a World Cup match in the Heights Bar, Loughinisland, in 1994
His solicitor Niall Murphy claimed the probe was motivated by “paranoid hysteria” among police commanders.

“Remarkably police have decided to continue with this farcical investigation,” he said.

“They have refused to take cognisance of the fact that there is no complaint.

“We have made representations that it is crystal clear that no offence has taken place and repeated the submission that the only investigation that should arise from the film No Stone Unturned is the murder of six men.”

The lawyer said he had expected the case to be dropped on Friday.

“This is a malicious farce conditioned by a paranoid hysteria in the senior ranks of the police,” said Mr Murphy.

“I regret to say I’m not surprised.

“The police approach here has been conditioned by an intention to protect their own intelligence agenda and that has been sustained again today by the nonsensical continuation of bail for two professional journalists doing their best and presenting as exemplars of the local profession.”

Ahead of the men entering the police station, Seamus Dooley, secretary of the Irish NUJ, urged detectives to “stop fishing” and instead catch the Loughinisland killers.

Afterwards, he branded the continuation of the probe a “travesty” and a “game changer”.

“It is a gross injustice,” he said.

“Facing into Christmas and the first quarter of 2019 with these restrictive bail requirements is unacceptable and there is now an obligation on the journalistic community, not just nationally but internationally, to renew our campaign.”

Mr Dooley also called for the Irish government to object to the situation.

“No journalist wants to be the centre of news but we’re now forced into the situation where those who have raised the questions are punished for doing so,” he said.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.