Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Body: Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
Appointing Department: Northern Ireland Office
Sectors: Business, Finance & Skills, Communities, Judicial, Prison & Policing, Prison & Policing
Location: Belfast
Skills required: Business / Commercial, Legal / Judicial, Major Projects, Regulation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £134,841 (under review)
Time Requirements: Full-time.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement


Vacancy Description

Applications are invited for the position of Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. The Ombudsman is responsible for the provision of an independent and impartial police complaints service and for providing strategic leadership to the Office, both in terms of its corporate management and in relation to its core investigative work. The remit of the

Police Ombudsman and the constitution of the Office are set out in Schedule 3 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998.


This is a challenging full-time position with a significant responsibility and public profile, and the successful candidate must have the ability to lead the work of the Office to deliver a police complaints system in which the public and police officers can have confidence. They will therefore need to demonstrate extensive relevant experience and a successful track record of achievement against the essential criteria for the post.

Person Specification


The overall aim of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is to provide an independent and impartial police complaints service in which both the public and the police have confidence. The Office is independent of government and it determines its own objectives and targets, subject to the terms of the Management Statement and Financial Memorandum agreed with the Department of Justice (a copy of which is available on the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland website).

The Ombudsman investigates complaints against the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Belfast Harbour Police, the Belfast International Airport Police, National Crime Agency Officers in Northern Ireland, Ministry of Defence Police in Northern Ireland and certain complaints about Immigration Officers and Designated Customs Officials when operating in Northern Ireland.

The work of the Office fits into the very complex, sensitive and difficult context of policing in Northern Ireland. The Ombudsman works closely with the public, police, the institutions of the Northern Ireland administration including the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Public Prosecution Service, solicitors and various advocacy organisations, as well as with the media. In that context, the Ombudsman is responsible for providing strategic leadership to the Office both in terms of its corporate management and in relation to its core investigative work. The statutory functions of the office include the following:

The Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 requires the Police Ombudsman to:

  • Exercise their powers in such manner and to such extent as appears to them to be best calculated to secure : a. the efficiency, effectiveness and independence of the police complaints system; and b. the confidence of the public and of members of the police force in that system;
  • Observe all requirements as to confidentiality;
  • Receive complaints and other referred matters and to decide how to deal with them;
  • Investigate complaints, referred matters and matters called in for investigation by the Police Ombudsman;
  • Receive and record policy complaints and refer them to the Chief Constable;
  • Make recommendations to the Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal prosecution;
  • Make recommendations and directions in respect of disciplinary action against police officers;
  • Notify the Minister of Justice, Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) and the Chief Constable of the outcome of certain complaints, referred matters and any investigation which the Police Ombudsman initiates without a complaint; and
  • Report to the Department of Justice annually.

The Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 requires the Police Ombudsman to:

  • Carry out inquiries as directed by the Minister of Justice; and
  • Supply statistical information to the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB).

The Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2003 requires the Police Ombudsman to:

  • Investigate a current practice or policy of the police if the practice or policy comes to their attention under the Police (NI) Act 1998, and there is reason to believe it would be in the public interest to investigate the practice or policy.

Duties of the Role

In addition to the responsibilities set out above, the Ombudsman will perform the following duties:

  • Lead the Office’s multi-disciplinary team and contribute to setting the strategic direction for the organisation and ensure this is clearly communicated to staff;
  • Set the objectives and targets of the Office, while building team enthusiasm and commitment to achieving long-term goals;
  • Delegate effectively and encourage ideas, initiatives and innovation in others;
  • Perform the Ombudsman’s role in a way which secures public confidence, including a capacity and willingness to challenge the police in a manner consistent with the principle of civilian oversight, and support senior colleagues in discharging their responsibilities effectively.
  • Constructively challenge the Office’s executive team in their planning, target setting and delivery of performance and demonstrate high standards of corporate governance at all times;
  • Promote efficient and effective use of the staff and other resources available to the Ombudsman and deliver maximum value from these resources.
  • Make independent, impartial judgements in sensitive and complex cases;
  • Demonstrate a creative and constructive approach;
  • Take difficult decisions objectively and act effectively under pressure.
  • Build, maintain and use networks and partnerships with the key external stakeholders of the Ombudsman’s Office;
  • Negotiate difficult and sensitive matters with other organisations as necessary;
  • Develop effective working relationships with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the other bodies for which the Ombudsman has statutory responsibility in relation to complaints; and
  • Provide a customer focused service and evaluate the effectiveness of that service.
  • Engage with the community and the public to build confidence in policing;
  • Effectively manage public relations, including giving media interviews when required;
  • Speak in public, both formally and informally, on matters relating to the work of the Ombudsman;
  • Produce an Annual Report on the discharge of his/her functions and an annual Statement of Accounts which will be laid before the NI Assembly; and
  • Produce a review of the working of The Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 at least once every five years.

Additional Information


The Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland is located at: New Cathedral Buildings 11 Church Street Belfast BT1 1PG



The successful candidate will be expected to travel throughout Northern Ireland and may be required to travel nationally and internationally.


In addition to 12 public and privilege holidays, there is an annual leave allowance of 30 days.


The successful appointee to the position of Police Ombudsman will be subject to a Developed Vetting security check as a condition of appointment (see further detail of the Candidate Information Booklet’ to the end of the text page 17).


Travel and subsistence costs and other general expenses arising out of official business will be paid in accordance with Northern Ireland Civil Service policy.


Induction training and corporate governance training will be provided to the new appointee. Any other identified training requirements will be supported as necessary.


Any applicant seeking additional information or wishing to raise a question about the competition process should contact The Executive Office’s Police Ombudsman Recruitment Team on 02890 378693 or via email: poapps@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk

This post is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.

How to Apply

Equal Opportunity

The Executive Office is committed to the principles of public appointments based on merit with independent assessment, openness and transparency of process. It is also committed to equality of opportunity and welcome application forms from all suitably qualified candidates irrespective of religious belief, gender, race, political opinion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or whether or not they have dependants.

We particularly welcome applications from women, people with a disability, young people and those from ethnic minorities, as these are currently underrepresented on public bodies in Northern Ireland.

Alternative Formats

Hard copy and alternative formats of the application form (Braille, Large Print, etc.) can be requested by contacting the Police Ombudsman Appointment Team using the contact details provided on the following page. Reasonable adjustments will be made to accommodate the needs of applicants with a disability.

Application Forms

In respect of the completion of application forms, applicants should note the following:

  • Electronic or legible, hand written versions of the application form are acceptable. If handwriting, applicants must use black ink.
  • We cannot accept CVs, letters or any other supplementary material.
  • There is a limit of 400 words per each essential criterion in order to ensure equality of opportunity for all applicants. Any words over this limit will be discounted.

It is recommended that you retain a copy of your application form. As the Candidate Information Booklet will not be available online after the closing date, it is also recommended that you retain a copy of this booklet for your reference in the event that you are invited for interview.

The application form is an essential element of the process and is designed to require applicants to give specific examples of past performance to demonstrate they can meet the requirements. The mere mention of a skill or attribute is insufficient, and the selection panel cannot make assumptions from the title of a post or the nature of an organisation as to the experience, qualities and skills gained.

Please take full advantage of the opportunity to provide practical evidence and examples of how and why you consider you are suitable for this appointment. These examples as provided will inform the selection process.

Application forms can be downloaded from The Executive Office website at https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/PONI  or the NI Direct Public Appointments website at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/public-appointment-vacancies

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