27/04/2004

Policing Board Chairman welcomes Oversight Commissioner’s report

The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Professor Desmond Rea, has welcomed today's Oversight Commissioner’s report and has supported the report's call for full public and political support for policing.

In his first Report as Oversight Commissioner, Al Hutchinson said the public must play a crucial role in society if "the goal of having a policing service that is truly reflective of society is to be realised".

Professor Rea said: “The Oversight Commissioner rightly recognises that despite the excellent progress made in effecting policing change, every section of the community must recognise its role in supporting the police if we are to achieve the policing prize of a service that is fully reflective of the community it serves.

”The new officers are indeed the future of policing and must be given the full support of the community in the choice, and delivery of, a career that provides an important public service to all the people of Northern Ireland.”

Responding to the Commissioner's outline regarding the progress made across the policing agenda, particularly in relation to the work of the District Policing Partnerships and the continued shift towards policing with the community, Professor Rea said: “The Board welcomes acknowledgement by the Commissioner of the successes to date but is also very alive to the areas of concern and is making sure that all these issues are being actively addressed.”

In relation to concerns regarding the police estate, Professor Rea said that the new Coleraine station and plans for the new Police College represented the future of police buildings in Northern Ireland. The Estates Review currently being completed by the Chief Constable would be closely examined by the Board to make sure that this vision was realised within the current estate holdings.

Security Minister Ian Pearson also welcomed today's report. He said the report highlighted the impressive pace of change by all those involved in bringing about the new beginnings to policing.

"In his overview the Commissioner states that if progress continues at the present rate, the majority of the Patten recommendations will either be functionally implemented or well on the way to implementation by May 2005," Mr Pearson said. "This is indeed something to applaud, especially for those involved in taking forward this process of change in policing.

"The Commissioner also recognises the important accountability role played by the Ombudsman, Policing Board and District Policing Partnerships and again acknowledges the need for the full support from all political parties and communities for policing.

"He rightly condemns, as do I, the threats, intimidation and attacks against those who serve in the PSNI, or who are members of the Policing Board or District Policing Partnerships.

"Such attacks are an affront to democracy and contrast starkly with the new policing architecture in Northern Ireland which has accountability arrangements that are second to none."

The PSNI also welcomed today's report saying it was an "acknowledgement that progress is now well under way towards achieving a new beginning in policing".

Roy Toner, the Assistant Chief Constable responsible for the Change Management programme, said the Commissioner had recognised that much had been achieved during the reporting period up to April 04 in what continues to be a complex and dramatic process with a total of 772 performance indicators under evaluation.

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