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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Concerns over Special Branch plan
Tom Constantine
Tom Constantine is concerned about some areas
Plans for the reorganisation of Special Branch appear to have fallen short of their target, the man tasked with overseeing police reform in Northern Ireland has said.

Tom Constantine made the observation in his latest report published on Wednesday.

In this, his fourth report, Mr Constantine pointed to more progress towards the new beginning to policing.

He said there had been "outstanding progress" on recruitment and an "excellent start" for the Policing Board.

New PSNI uniform
PSNI officers now wear new uniform and badge

But a police plan to reorganise Special Branch did not live up to the recommendations on Northern Ireland police reform made in the 1999 report by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten, the oversight commissioner said.

However, the Assistant Chief Constable Sam Kinkaid said Mr Constantine's report did not include recent developments such as the graduation of the first PSNI trainees and the introduction of the new policing badge and emblem.

But he said the oversight commissioner's report would be "carefully considered and the Police Service would address areas where work needed to be done".

Mr Patten, now an EU Commissioner, headed the Independent Commission on the Future of Policing in Northern Ireland which recommended sweeping changes to policing.

Mr Constantine, a former head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration and New York state police chief, also identified other areas of concern.

  • A lack of significant progress on a new police college.

  • Not enough being done to create civilian posts within the police.

  • Concerns about resources and about human rights training.

    The oversight commissioner said he would pay close attention to plans to phase out the full-time police reserve and to recruit into the part-time reserve.

    Despite his concerns, Tom Constantine concluded by saying he did not doubt the desire of most to achieve the new beginning to policing.

    Policing Board Chairman Professor Desmond Rea said the board would welcome the positive comments from Mr Constantine.

    SDLP's Alex Attwood
    Alex Attwood: Report vindicates SDLP decision
    "It will also no doubt recognise that there is still much work to do in ensuring the delivery of an effective and efficient policing service," he said.

    SDLP board member Alex Attwood said the report was a "vindication of the SDLP's decision to participate in the Policing Board".

    Ian Paisley junior, A DUP board member, said he was concerned at the report's "appetite to encourage the already discriminatory police recruitment program".

    Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said the oversight commissioner's report had limited use because "it was restricted by British law".

    Sinn Fein has refused to take its seats on the Policing Board, citing the failure to disband Special Branch as one of its reasons.

    The first recruits to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland graduated last month.

    The new recruits were selected on a quota basis of 50% Catholics and 50% Protestants and people of other denominations.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    BBC NI's Brian Rowan reports
    "Tom Constantine points to more progress towards the new beginning to policing"
    BBC NI's Brian Rowan
    "Sinn Fein the new beginning to policing has still to be delivered"
    Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

    Key stories

    Background

    OTHER SPECIAL REPORTS
    See also:

    03 Dec 00 | N Ireland
    28 Nov 00 | N Ireland
    04 Dec 01 | N Ireland
    05 Apr 02 | N Ireland
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