Police reform and oversight has been an essential pillar of the NI peace process from the 1990s onwards. It has now been 20 years since the PSNI was established following the Independent Commission for Policing in Northern Ireland (the Patten Report), along with wider policing oversight arrangements, including the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, in the Republic, generational police reforms under the Commission on the Future of Policing are now entering a critical phase as legislation on the restructured oversight mechanisms is being brought forward.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) have been key players in the policing reform process for many years and have played a key role in advocating for a rights-based approach to policing within both jurisdictions.
Set against a very different social and political environment to that underpinning the Patten Commission era, twenty years on we now stand at a key juncture for advancing and sustaining policing reform, and with this comes an opportunity for us to reflect on past successes, current challenges, and risks for the future around human rights.
During this half day seminar, we will hear from academics, practitioners, and others with a direct involvement in police reform and oversight. There will be an opening address from Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, UN Special Rapporteur and academic based at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Minnesota.
An opening panel on human rights, policing reform processes and structure will feature experts including Dr Richard Martin (LSE), Alyson Kilpatrick (current Chief Commissioner with NIHRC and former Human Rights Advisor to the Policing Board), and Dr Michael Maguire (Fellow of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute, QUB).
This will be followed by a panel discussion focused on policing at a community level including Dr John Topping (QUB), Lilian Seenoi-Barr (Director of Programmes for the North West Migrants Forum), Conal McFeely (Creggan Community Development Worker) and Debbie Watters (Ulster University). A final ‘reflections’ panel will draw on the experience of those involved in policing reforms processes, North and South.
This seminar is hosted by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, and the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast. It is part of a broader joint ICCL-CAJ project on policing oversight, funded by the Community Foundation Ireland. It will be followed by a further seminar in Dublin in early 2022.
Important note: Both in-person tickets and online tickets are available for this event. The former is strictly limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.