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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Policing plan blueprint published
Sinn Fein has said the policing plan is inadequate
Sinn Fein has said the policing plan is inadequate
A revised plan for implementing police reform in Northern Ireland is a "blueprint for positive change", according to the secretary of state John Reid.

He was speaking as he published the 75-page plan which outlines in detail changes to be made to the Royal Ulster Constabulary as it is transformed into the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Its aim is to redress the gap between the current policing proposals and the 175 recommendations made by the Patten Commission on the future of policing nearly two years ago.
Dr Reid: Publishing policing plan
Dr Reid: Published policing plan

Dr Reid said it offered the "spirit and substance of the Patten report" and "unprecedented opportunities" for policing in Northern Ireland.

"This plan is emphatically not about concessions to just one side or the other," said Dr Reid.

"It is purely and simply about good and effective policing and that includes maximising cross-community support and participation in policing."

What new plan proposes

  • Subject to the security situation, non-renewal of contracts for the full-time reserve - but only after the first recruits have completed their training in 2002.

  • Recruiting 2,500 people for part-time reserve within three years - conditional on community support. First trainees could start training early in 2002.

  • The title Police Service of Northern Ireland should be used for all operational, working purposes and contractual purposes - but use of title will be kept under review.

  • Policing should be the core function of the police service and the core function of every police station.

  • Policing boards will be set up next month.

    Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin has rejected the plan saying it failed to implement the Patten report in full.

    He said his party would not be recommending that nationalists join the new service.

    Mitchel McLaughlin
    Mitchel McLaughlin: Rejected the plan

    Alex Attwood of the nationalist SDLP said his party would give urgent consideration to the plan.

    He said the concerns raised by the SDLP had all been acknowledged by the British Government.

    William McCrea of the Democratic Unionist Party said his party would consider the document and give a detailed response.

    "We believe this will sap further the morale of the RUC. It will continue to damage and destroy the RUC," he said.

    Earlier, Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon said her party would be studying the proposals carefully before making any decision.

    Sir Ronnie Flanagan said he hoped the plan would be well received
    Sir Ronnie Flanagan said he hoped the plan would be well received

    The RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, said he hoped the document would be well received.

    "If the plan receives widespread cross-community support, I have no doubt that it will be a blueprint for effective policing," he said.

    "The RUC stands ready to energetically play its part in the implementation of those parts of the plan for which it has responsibility.

    "It is my dear hope that the cross-community support will be forth coming."

    Policing is one of the issues currently causing the impasse in the Northern Ireland political process, which is threatening the future of the institutions.

    The issue was part of a British and Irish Governments' blueprint to try to break the deadlock, following negotiations with the pro-Agreement parties in July.

    None of the main pro-Agreement parties have fully accepted the package and Dr Reid suspended the assembly briefly at the weekend, to trigger a second six-week talks period.

    Since the publication of the Patten report, the SDLP and Sinn Fein have refused to sign up to the new police service.

    The revised policing plan was shown to the parties earlier this month.

    Northern Ireland Secretary Dr John Reid
    "This is an attempt to combine two things"
    Mike Brogden, Queen's University Belfast
    explains the historical problems surrounding NI policing
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