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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
PSNI campaign to attract officers home
Shortage of experienced officers has prompted campaign
Shortage of experienced officers prompted campaign

Adverts are to appear shortly for new police officers - but with a difference.

This time the Police Service of Northern Ireland wants to recruit officers from Britain.

The force is looking for 100 detectives.

Over the years many Royal Ulster Constabulary officers have crossed the Irish Sea to serve in other forces. But are they ready to come home?

Orde lead

Chief Constable Hugh Orde is hoping to become a modern day Pied Piper.

Just weeks after arriving in Belfast he wants other England based officers to follow his lead and move to Northern Ireland.

Hugh Orde
Hugh Orde wants 100 new detectives recruited
The chief constable's appeal stems from a staffing crisis that has left his force with a shortfall of experienced detectives.

The former deputy assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police hopes ex-pats can help.

"I joined the police in 1977 and I can remember working with officers who had come over from Northern Ireland.

"I am short of detectives and I want to encourage people with skills who may have an Irish background to return home," Mr Orde said.

Policing in Britain has often been a world apart from the Troubles - something that has attracted many officers away from Northern Ireland.

Peter Dallas:
Peter Dallas: "I would be looking over my shoulder"
Peter Dallas from County Antrim is typical of many people who have made a policing career in England.

He hadn't considered joining the RUC and instead opted for a job with the police in the Thames Valley.

"To be honest I would never have joined the RUC."

So would he consider returning to Northern Ireland?

"In England I'm quite proud to say what I do.

"Over here I'd always be looking over my shoulder and having considerations for my family, but I would never consider going home to be a policeman."

Peter Dallas says his colleagues in the Thames Valley often ask him about policing in Northern Ireland.

"I have to explain things to them - they know it's not a great place to be - and obviously not a great place to police either."

Security situation

Therein lies the difficulty for Hugh Orde. Many officers who have made new lives in Britain may feel the security situation in Northern Ireland hasn't improved since they left.

Others may find the opportunities greater in Britain and be reluctant to uproot their families.

Jim Gamble: Would come back for the right job
Jim Gamble: Would consider coming back for the right job
Jim Gamble from County Down made the switch from Northern Ireland to England last year.

He was a detective superintendent with the PSNI and now works in London as an assistant chief constable with National Crime Squad.

It was the lure of promotion and the prospect of doing specialised intelligence work that brought him to England.

He believes Hugh Orde's appeal will be answered.

"A lot of officers will be interested. I think it would bring real benefit to have officers who have experience of other forces who could bring that experience back to Northern Ireland."

Jim Gamble won't be one of those rushing home. He has been in post since last November and although a move home is too soon he hasn't ruled out switching back to the PSNI.

"Obviously as I am from Northern Ireland I will consider coming back at some stage in my career but that depends on the circumstances and the job offer at the time."

Ad campaign

Hugh Orde has made the issue of recruitment a top priority.

He wants to recruit 100 detectives and adverts will appear shortly.

Earlier this month, the chief constable met the prime minister in Downing Street when the issue was discussed and Tony Blair pledged to offer him the resources he needed.

Inevitably with policing there is a political backdrop - and this plan to tempt officers back home is no exception.

Chief Constable Hugh Orde realises that if a political consensus on policing is achieved and his force has genuine cross community support he stands a greater chance of persuading officers in England that their future lies in Northern Ireland.

Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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25 Sep 02 | N Ireland
19 Sep 02 | N Ireland
02 Sep 02 | N Ireland
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