The Police Ombudsman's Office look at evidence to decide whether police officers have acted properly or not. They also investigate complaints against some, but not all, civilian employees of the police. This includes employees performing custody or escort duties for the police.
Their decisions are made entirely independently of the police, government and complainants.
You do not have to pay to complain to them.
The Police Ombudsman deals with complaints against:
- The Police Service of Northern Ireland (police officers and designated civilians)
- National Crime Agency officers in Northern Ireland
- The Belfast Harbour Police
- The Larne Harbour Police
- The Belfast International Airport Police
- The Ministry of Defence police in Northern Ireland
- Certain UK Border Force staff ("serious cases" only)
They investigate complaints about how police officers and employees do their jobs. This includes complaints about the use of excessive force, that officers have failed to conduct proper enquiries, that officers or staff have been rude or offensive, or have acted inappropriately in other ways.
You can make a complaint:
- by phone on 0845 601 2931 (charged at local rate)
- by email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- via their website – www.policeombudsman.org
- in writing to the address at the bottom of this page
- by calling in person at the office between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday (please call 0845 601 2931 to make an appointment)
- by fax on 028 9082 8659
- by textphone, for people with hearing impairment, on 028 9082 8756
* Telephone calls may be recorded for joint protection, training and other lawful purposes.
- the day, time, date and exact location of the incident
- the name, shoulder number and a physical description of the officer(s) or employee involved
- the name, address and telephone number(s) of any witnesses
- the registration numbers of any vehicles involved in the incident
- any other helpful or relevant evidence, such as photographs or audio or video footage
You must make your complaint within one year of the incident you are concerned about.
In special circumstances, the Police Ombudsman can decide to investigate a complaint about something that happened more than a year before it was reported to us. This happens when the Police Ombudsman believes the complaint to be grave or exceptional.
If you are under 18 years of age you can find out more about making a complaint by clicking here.