Thursday, September 2, 1999 Published at 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
UK: Northern Ireland
'Deep concern' over Patten leaks
The report into the future of the RUC will be published next week
A former chief constable of the RUC has expressed his concern about the leaking of recommendations due to be made by the commission into the future of the force.
The Independent Commission into Policing in Northern Ireland, which is chaired by Chris Patten, is due to publish its proposals next week.
It has also been suggested that the force could drop the oath of allegiance to the Queen and that the UK flag will no longer be flown over RUC police stations.
Sir John Hermon, who was chief constable of the force between 1980 and 1989, said: "I did support the Patten committee and did, and still do, the assembly because I think they're both essential.
"What concerns me about the Patten commission at the moment is the unprecedented number of leaks of what the Patten commission report is going to concern.
Sir John said his main concern centred on the future of the RUC's Special Branch, one of Europe's most experienced anti-terrorist police units.
Referring to a report into policing in the province in 1969 by Lord Hunt which saw the Ulster Special Constabulary disbanded and replaced by the Ulster Defence Regiment Sir John said he believed there must be justification for any changes.
"My concern is that we do not have a repeat of the 1969 debacle when the RUC was created into an unarmed, non-retaliatory civilianised police force not to be involved in public disorder and not to be involved in security.
"Those last two were delegated to the army.
"We have suffered 30 years of violence and stupendous number of murders because of that and that is what concerns me," he said.