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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 12:23 GMT
Concerns over police reforms
PSNI patrol
There has been a positive response to police reforms
Delays in implementing changes to special branch are still one of the main concerns for the man tasked to oversee policing changes in Northern Ireland.

Oversight Commissioner Tom Constantine outlined his concerns in his latest progress report, published on Tuesday.

Mr Constantine is overseeing reforms following the changeover from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in November last year.

In the latest report, he said there had been a favourable response to the changes made so far and pointed to what he saw as positive elements in the work of the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman.

Tom Constantine: Overseeing reforms
Tom Constantine: Overseeing reforms
However, Mr Constantine also said problems he had previously highlighted have yet to be corrected.

These include delays on addressing the recommendations on special branch made in the Patten Report on police reform.

He said: "We have mentioned a number of issues which we feel have not moved at the same pace of progress and one of those is special branch.

"The plan that we received in January of last year just did not fulfil the intention of Patten and we had requested several revisions since then."

He said the police service had not yet implemented that plan and its revisions because it was awaiting for several other reports to be completed.

'Room for improvement'

In the 86-page document, he makes clear not everyone is not doing enough to encourage recruitment to the police service.

The commissioner is also concerned about what he considers to be the selective implementation of some of the proposed reforms.

On training and moves towards community policing, he said there was room for improvement.

Security Minister Jane Kennedy said she was encouraged Mr Constantine's latest assessment.

Policing Professor Rea
Professor Rea: Policing Board welcomed the report
"Where he has identified areas of continuing concern, we, along with the police and the Policing Board, will urgently seek to address these.

"While the challenge of reform continues, again it is clear that much progress has been made since his last report in September," said Ms Kennedy.

The Policing Board described the report as an upbeat assessment.

Board chairman Professor Desmond Rea said: "This report provides a comprehensive analysis of progress to date and I think shows just how far we have come in a relatively short period of time."

The SDLP board member Alex Attwood described the report as timely, adding it acknowledged the good work being done on a wide front by the Policing Board.

Although he was appointed for a three-year period in May 2000, the commissioner has admitted it could take up to 10 years for all the Patten recommendations to be achieved.

BBC NI's security editor Brian Rowan:
"As far as Tom Constantine is concerned it is time to build the new police academy"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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See also:

10 Sep 02 | N Ireland
29 Aug 02 | N Ireland
16 Oct 01 | N Ireland
21 Aug 02 | N Ireland
30 May 02 | N Ireland
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