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Statement issued by the Police Federation in response to the Patten Report, 9 September 1999

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Statement by the Police Federation in response to the Patten Report, 9 September 1999


As part of the Belfast Agreement a Commission into Policing was set up by the British Government under the Chairmanship of Chris Patten, a former Member of Parliament (during which time he was also a Minister in the Northern Ireland Office) and the last Governor of Hong Kong before it was returned to China in 1997.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents 12,000 officers from the rank of Constable to Chief Inspector, has submitted its evidence written and oral to the Patten Commission. The Commission will report with its recommendations to the British government by next summer.

Our views in our evidence we have told the Commission the following:

1. That Peace in Northern Ireland is the best prospect for recruiting Catholics into the police service. Intimidation by the IRA over the past 30 years had dissuaded Catholics from joining.
2. The Federation has put forward a number of radical proposals to redress the imbalance of Catholics and Protestants in the police service including substantial expansion of the part- time police reserve in their local communities and voluntary severance to facilitate a new recruitment campaign.
3. Substantial investment should be made in training to create a new emphasis on the role of constables and sergeants as the basis for community policing.
4. The RUC has changed over the years and is committed to evolving to create a police service whose ethos, sensitivity and operating capability matches the new circumstances of Northern Ireland.
5. The Federation opposes any change in name from Royal Ulster Constabulary as a betrayal of the proud tradition of the police service and of the memory and sacrifice of the 302 officers who have been murdered and over 8,500 injured as a result of terrorism from both sides of the community.
6. The emblems of the RUC, the Harp and Crown badge and the dark green uniform embrace the symbolism of both communities and should be seen as celebration of the two traditions.
7. The Federation supports the view that the work place and public areas of the police service should be a neutral working environment and supports actively all Northern Ireland equal opportunities legislation.
8. The Federation would prefer to be an unarmed civilian police service if circumstances were such as to justify the giving up of the current personal issue weapons carried by officers for their individual protection.
9.The Federation believes in a police service free of political direction, in the operational independence of its Chief Officer and in accountability to an independent Police Authority representative of the wider community.
10. The Federation rejects as unacceptable the idea that:
a) ex-paramilitaries and terrorists could become members of a police service and
b) that a population of only 1.67m people could sustain a two-tier police service organised in autonomous units.
1. The RUC believes a single, unitary police service for Northern Ireland is the only means of delivering a professional, independent and fair service to the community.
2.The best guarantee of sustaining the peace in Northern Ireland is the RUC.


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