PSNI surveillance report fails to reassure Policing Board

PSNI surveillance report fails to reassure Policing Board

A PSNI report on the use of covert surveillance against journalists and lawyers has not provided adequate reassurances, the Northern Ireland Policing Board has said.

The 60-page report, published yesterday, states firmly: “The central public concern has been that there was widespread, and unjustified, surveillance of journalists and to a lesser extent lawyers.

“Without pre-judging the outcome of the independent review, the Police Service believes that this is not made out by the facts.”

The report comes ahead of an independent review to be led by London lawyer Angus McCullogh KC, as well as hearings before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) in October.

Mukesh Sharma MBE DL, chair of the Policing Board, said: “The Board has today considered the report into PSNI use of covert powers in relation to journalists and lawyers which the Chief Constable has committed to publishing. The Board welcomes the further transparency that publication of the report will provide.

“However, the report does not give the Board all the assurance it needs. The McCullough review process may do so, and the Board will receive updates as that work progresses.”

Mr Sharma added: “The Board takes its human rights monitoring duties seriously. The emphasis we have put on police use of covert surveillance has contributed to the establishment of these arrangements.

“Police surveillance remains a focus of the Board’s human rights work and has constituted a large part of our recent review of privacy and policing.

“The Board awaits the conclusion of the McCullough review and remains open to all courses of action to ensure there is proper accountability on these issues, and will continue to pursue the question of the use of police surveillance powers directly with the Chief Constable.”

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