THE Policing Board has admitted that it can no longer carry out its statutory obligations after a key adviser’s contract was not renewed.
It is understood the former human rights adviser Alyson Kilpatrick (pictured above) left her post last month. The Policing Board has a responsibility to monitor the performance of the RUC/PSNI in complying with the Human Rights Act. Human rights oversight is regarded as one of the most important functions of the board. Appointed in 2012, Ms Kilpatrick regularly provided expert legal opinion to the board and helped produce an annual human rights report. Regarded as an expert in her feild, she was appointed as a part-time special adviser to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation last year.
In February this year senior board figures, including chair Anne Connolly, were delegated authority to take decisions across a range of areas. These include ensuring the RUC/PSNI can continue to draw down funding, to approve high value compensation requests and approve RUC/PSNI secondments. However, the adviser’s contract has been allowed to lapse. While independent members continue to meet in privite, a spokeswoman for the board last night said it has no authority to appointment a new adviser. “In the absence of a fully constituted Policing Board, it was not possible to extend the appointment period of the Human Rights Advisor as there was no authority to do so,” she said.
“A new appointment process to fill this role will be initiated when the Board is fully constituted.” Political representatives were not appointed to take their places on the board after the March assembly elections due to the ongoing political crisis. Former board member and SDLP representive Dolores Kelly voice anger at the development last night. “It’s a complete lack of understanding of their role at best,” she said. “At the end of the day these people are still getting paid.” Ms Kelly also voiced concern with regards to oversight of the National Crime Agency and a special task force involving that group, the police and customs officers recently set up to tackle paramilitary activity. The SDLP MLA said the matter needs to resolved quickly. “I call on the board and other independent members to immediately address this serious situation.” “Who made this decision? They need to come clean.” A spokesman for the RUC/PSNI said: “This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Policing Board.”
Irish News Editorial: Another casualty of Stormont impasse IN today’s edition we report that the Policing Board has become nothing more than a ‘talking shop’ because of the inability to appoint a human rights advisor due to the absence of a functioning assembly. Other side-effects of the failure to reestablish a government at Stormont have been the lack of ministers to oversee financial arrangements at the various departments, with under pressure health and education often quoted. Yesterday Secretary of State James Brokenshire again stated that he would have to put a budget to finance North of Ireland departments before Westminster. As he pointed out himself, this is not what the electorate voted for. It is critical that locally elected representatives do all they can to bring about a resolution to the problems which are holding back the reestablishment of an executive. The sooner the better.
With many thanks to: Connla Young The Irish News for the original story.