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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Reservists top police talks agenda
Hugh Orde addressing reporters after meeting Policing Board
Hugh Orde: Needs reserve to "deliver frontline policing"
The chief constable is understood to have pressed the Policing Board for the retention of the full-time police reserve for another three years.

The issue was discussed at a meeting between Hugh Orde and members of the Policing Board on Friday.

The Patten proposals on the future of policing had recommended that the reserve force should be scrapped when the security situation allowed.


I am on record already as saying I need the reserve for a reasonable period of time to enable me to deliver frontline policing

Hugh Orde
Chief Constable

However, Mr Orde has said he will need officers in the reserve for the foreseeable future.

A decision will be made at a full meeting of the board, which oversees the service, on 3 October.

Mr Orde described Friday's talks as constructive.

He added: "I presented our whole human resources strategy which is focusing as many of our resources as we possibly can at the front end of policing."

Mr Orde said he had put forward a number of options to the board regarding the full-time reserve.

But he added: "I have been very clear on my operational needs and I am on record already as saying I need the reserve for a reasonable period of time to enable me to deliver frontline policing."

He said he did not want to raise expectations or "cause any more concerns to a group of officers who have frankly been badly treated in the past".

When he took up the job as police chief in the province at the start of the month, Mr Orde said it was important not to wind down the reserve too quickly.

He later said his comments did not mean he was abandoning the Patten recommendations but the issue was "one of timing".

Resources

His comments were criticised by Sinn Fein but welcomed by Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

Meanwhile the latest advertising recruitment campaign by the Police Service of Northern Ireland has got under way.

It is aimed at attracting more senior police officers currently working in Britain.

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

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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's security editor Brian Rowan:
"The security situation means the reserve is still needed"
BBC NI's security editor Brian Rowan:
"The strategy will also outline plans to employ more civilians"
Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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Background

OTHER SPECIAL REPORTS
See also:

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