Use of the phrase ‘collusive behaviours’ to critique police is ‘fundamentally wrong’ says former top detective Alan Mains

A former senior detective has added his voice to a chorus of others criticising the Police Ombudsman for use of the phrase “collusive behaviour”.

By Adam Kula
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 5:06 pm
The crest of the RUC
The crest of the RUC

A former senior detective has added his voice to a chorus of others criticising the Police Ombudsman for use of the phrase “collusive behaviour”.

It comes ahead of a High Court hearing in Belfast on Tuesday, when a group of ex-security personnel will challenge the ombudsman over the use of the phrase, among other legal arguments.

The ombudsman had been warned off using the phrase “collusion” by the courts, but has instead gone on to use the phrase “collusive behaviour” – which some former officers have complained gives an impression of criminal wrongdoing.

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Speaking to the News Letter today Alan Mains, who retired from the PSNI in 2007, said: “If there is any evidence we’re happy to go to trial, happy to go before a judge, happy to take the consequences of that.

“But what we’re not happy [about] – and I’m certainly not happy – is this ‘collusive behaviour’ statement that the ombudsman keeps referring to.

“I agree with the principles of the ombudsman’s office. I agree entirely with that. I don’t agree with the fact that after several years of investigation they come up with ‘collusive behaviour,’ then it hits the media and the media then take it whatever way they have to.

“That to me is wrong – fundamentally wrong. If there’s a criminal offence identified then they should be referred to the PPS.”

He added that it feels as if the general atmosphere in society is one of singling out the state for blame, above even the paramilitaries.

“These people gave their lives, their families gave up a lot of their own time, in an endeavour to keep this country safe,” he said.

“There’s no doubt the professionalism of the RUC / PSNI was to the fore in keeping Northern Ireland on course to where we are now.”

The office of the Police Ombudsman has previously said it will “robustly” defend its position in court, and that the phrase “collusive behaviour” is “entirely within the boundaries” of what it is allowed to conclude.

It added this week: “The Police Ombudsman makes clear in each public statement the lawful basis for her conclusions...

“Where the Police Ombudsman identifies ‘collusive behaviours’ she provides clear reasoning for her decision.”