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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 19:43 GMT 20:43 UK
Reservists central to police chief's plan
Hugh Orde: PSNI Chief Constable
Hugh Orde: "These officers are on the front line"
Northern Ireland's full-time police reserve will be needed for the foreseeable future, the new chief constable has said.

Hugh Orde was speaking on his first day in the province's top policing post on Monday.

One of the Patten Report recommendations was that the reserve force should be scrapped when the security situation allowed.


They are on the front line protecting communities and I will need them for the foreseeable future

Hugh Orde
Chief Constable

However, speaking as he met officers at Newtownabbey police station, Mr Orde said it was important not to wind down the reserve too quickly.

"The reserves have played a vital role in recent history and they deserve certainty," he said.

"They need to recognise under Patten, that over time the Patten recommendations are absolutely clear.

"But I need to be absolutely clear that at the moment I need the reserve, I need them to continue carrying out the job.

"They are all front line officers, they don't sit in offices, they are on the front line protecting communities and I will need them for the foreseeable future."

Mr Orde later said his comments did not mean he was abandoning the Patton recommendations but the issue was "one of timing".

However, north Belfast Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly criticised the chief constable's comments.

Resources

"We have the Patten Report in that the full-time reserve were to go and Hugh Orde is obviously running against that," he said.

"He should be bound by what was agreed by all the parties in the Good Friday Agreement and he should not move off that."

The former Metropolitan deputy assistant commissioner, stressed the need for the police service to be given more equipment and more resources.

"If I look simply at the figures at the moment we are recruiting successfully, but I cannot train new recruits quickly enough to get numbers up to what is needed to deliver an effective service," he said.

Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble welcomed the new chief constable's comments on the future of the full-time Police Reserve.

Speaking from the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, Mr Trimble said: "I am pleased that Mr Orde recognises the importance of the Police Reserve.

"And I am glad that he is willing to commit himself to maintaining the reserve as a crucial component of local law enforcement."

First minister David Trimble: Welcomed chief constable's comments
First minister David Trimble: Welcomed chief constable's comments

Policing Board chairman Professor Des Rea welcomed Mr Orde as the new chief constable at a meeting on Monday and said he was taking on one of the toughest jobs in policing.

Police resources are being drained not just in the area of counter-terrorism, but because of the constant presence now required on the sectarian interfaces in north and east Belfast, and because of the demands of a number of major investigations.

Deputy Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn, who stood down as acting chief constable last week, warned that there was little or nothing left for the business of ordinary day-to-day policing.

About 1,000 police officers are off sick - about a ninth of the entire police service.

Many experienced detectives took the attractive severance packages on offer after Patten, and in areas of policing there is now a shortage of experience and skills.

The question of resources, how officers are used, is probably the biggest issue currently under discussion between the Policing Board and the PSNI.

Mr Orde's first day in office also included a series of meetings with officers throughout the province, and a meeting with the Secretary of State, John Reid, at Stormont.

Afterwards, Dr Reid said that Mr Orde took up his new role "at a time of considerable change and significant challenge for policing in Northern Ireland".

"He comes here as a man of vision, commitment and energy and I have no doubt the Police Service of Northern Ireland will grow in strength and character under his leadership," he added.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's chief security correspondent Brian Rowan:
"All eyes are on the new man"
Sinn Fein chairman Mitchell McLaughlin
"We will not prejudge Hugh Orde"
UUP's Lady Sylvia Hermon
"Manpower levels are dangerously low"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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OTHER SPECIAL REPORTS
See also:

02 Sep 02 | N Ireland
02 Sep 02 | N Ireland
31 May 02 | N Ireland
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