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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Targets on policing change published
First recruits to new service will be on streets in Spring 2002
First recruits to new service will be on streets in Spring 2002
The man overseeing police reform in Northern Ireland has published 722 performance targets which will be used to monitor how the changes are carried out.

Tom Constantine published the targets on Wednesday alongside all 175 recommendations made in the Patten report on the future of policing two years ago.

These targets will be used to assess progress towards what has been billed as a "new beginning to policing", when the RUC is replaced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland later this year.

The report comes a day before the Police Authority publishes what should be its last report before it is replaced by the new policing board.

The publication of its report on Thursday will co-incide with the deadline for political nominations to the new board.

Tom Constantine: Overseeing police reform
Tom Constantine: Overseeing police reform

Mr Constantine, a former chief of police in New York state, said it was vital that the new board was established.

"All of the things we do - all the key recommendations involve the accountability aspect of the Police Board," he said.

"When we go to review any of these recommendations we always go back to the Police Board and see what their opinions are and what their decisions are.

"It would seem to me that without a Police Board, the changes as prescribed would be very difficult to occur."

But he added that the co-operation he had received so far was "complete and professional".

On Monday, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid wrote to the DUP, Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Sinn Fein telling them he wanted their decisions by Thursday on whether they would endorse the new service.

The four largest parties all have the right to nominate members - 10 in total - to the 19-member Police Board, which will have powers to hold the chief constable to account.

Interviews to select the nine independent members of that board are due to finish on Wednesday.

Northern Ireland secretary
John Reid is asking parties for board nominations

So far only the nationalist SDLP has agreed to nominate members to the new board, therefore accepting the government's plans on how it will implement the changes to policing.

Sinn Fein is the only party to have rejected the policing plan outright.

The DUP leader, Ian Paisley, has said his party is still not ready to accept the invitation to join the new board.

Mr Paisley and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble have held a number of meetings with Dr Reid over the policing issue.

The first batch of between 260-300 Police Service of Northern Ireland trainees - selected on a 50% Catholic 50% Protestant basis - will begin training by 3 November and be on the streets by spring 2002.

It is planned that the reserve will be eventually phased out as part of the reforms to policing.

BBC NI's chief security correspondent Brian Rowan
"The next few weeks are crucial to the new beginning"
See also:

20 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Catholic bishops back policing plan
30 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Unionists split over policing support
12 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Police recruitment 'will be 50:50'
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