'How do we respond to a time of threat? Lawfully.'

Policing and oversight at times of threat – how to respond

(report continued from: Omagh: 'You can kill 31 people and get away with it'

Chaired by Margaret Ritchie MLA, this was the second of three sessions presented at the SDLP seminar, 'Policing and its oversight at times of threat', the first of a number of events the party plans to stage this year to mark the tenth anniversary of the Patten Commission report on Policing.

Dr Colin Harvey is Profesor of Human Rights Law and Head of the Law School at Queen's and a NI Human Rights Commissioner. Posing the rhetorical question, 'how do we respond to a time of threat?', he suggests the appropriate, understated response: 'lawfully'.

"The best answer is and has always been to demonstrate a collective commitment to human rights, equality, democracy and the rule of law," he avers.

He proposes that both institutions of oversight and underpinning principles are required and that the latter must inform the operation of the former:

"We constantly need to make the link between the institutions and mechanisms and the rules and standards they are suppoed to serve."

On this basis, he calls into question the oversight mechanisms in place for the UK intelligence services, compared to those arrangements which exist with for the PSNI.

With much more to contribute to the discussion, but jokily acknowledging that most people are more eager to hear the next speaker, Dame Nuala O'Loan, he retakes his seat.

(Report continued at: 'Is this the start of our troubles?')

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