Policing plan for Northern Ireland is announced

Secretary of State Dr John Reid announced the updated policing plan for Northern Ireland on Friday.

Shown to the pro-Agreement parties two week ago The Police Implementation Plan published by Secretary of State Dr John Reid, which runs to 75 pages, has already been rejected by Republicans as inadequate and denounced by Unionists who refuse to accept any changes to policing in Northern Ireland until there is decommissioning.

At a press conference to announce the plan Northern Ireland Secretary of State John Reid said he knew that not every part of the plan would please everyone, but he said that the government wished to “act positively rather than be held back by the reluctance and difficulties of others”.

He said: “The plan sets out the future of policing for the people of NI for whom the new beginning offers new levels of ownership, participation, security and stability. It is a blueprint for fundamental and positive change – in short it is Patten.”

As a follow on from the Police Reform Act, which has been passed in the British parliament and gained royal assent in November 2000, the 175-point plan based on the Patten proposals details the changes to be made to the Royal Ulster Constabulary as it is moulded into the Police Service of Northern Ireland:

Among the main changes outlined in the plan are:

  • Scrapping the full-time police reserve

  • Recruiting 2,500 part-time police reserve

  • A Code of Ethics in line with European convention on human rights

  • New name and symbols

  • Creation of a new Police Board

  • Setting up new District Policing Partnership Boards

  • Closure of Castlereagh, Gough and Strand Road Holding Centres

  • Restructuring of Special Branch

  • Special recruitment measures

  • New oath for Officers

  • Revision of Police Ombudsman’s powers

  • Appointment of an Oversight Commissioner

Dr Reid said that the community in Northern Ireland deserved a police service that had wide support and could function effectively. Dr Reid said that he hoped the plan offered could be held up to world as a model of modern and effective policing.

He appealed for those who had “rejected the plan out of hand” and reached a “hasty decision” on the updated plan to reconsider.

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan said that if the plan received widespread cross-community support, he had no doubt that it would be an effective blueprint for effective policing in the province.


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