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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Report praises policing progress
Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchinson
Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchinson praised changes in policing
The commission monitoring changes to policing in Northern Ireland has said the new beginning set out in the Patten report six years ago is well under way.

The report, by Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchinson, reveals that Catholic representation in the police service has doubled since the Patten report.

Since September 2002 no plastic bullets have been fired and sick leave is down.

However, the report again stresses the need for full community and political support for policing.

The report is the 13th by the commission and tells a story of significant progress over the past number of years.

It says the proposed changes in Special Branch have largely been accomplished.

Workforce

Sick leave in the force is down from an average of 23.5 days per officer in 2001/02 to 17 days in the period 2004/5.

However, it also raises concern about the make-up of the civilian workforce, which the report says remains largely unrepresentative of the wider population.

The visual appearance of police stations is another worry - with the base at Musgrave Street in Belfast city centre described as an "unsightly monument to the past".

Mr Hutchinson also said that "the threat or perception of intimidation remains a barrier to ensuring that the Police Service is as representative of the wider population as it could be".

Chief Constable Hugh Orde said the report showed that there had been a vast amount of progress in policing.

"Today's report is an endorsement of the work carried out to date and we will continue to work to ensure that the remaining recommendations are implemented," he said.

The Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, also known as the Patten Commission, was set up after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The Patten Commission said an independent person should be selected to oversee the implementation of its 175 recommendations.

Mr Hutchinson, an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 34 years, took over from American Tom Constantine who held the position from May 2000 until his retirement at the end of 2003.




SEE ALSO:
Police reform at 'critical point'
14 Dec 04 |  Northern Ireland
Policing changes 'will be achieved'
21 Sep 04 |  Northern Ireland
NI policing needs community support
06 May 03 |  Northern Ireland


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