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Thursday, 9 September, 1999, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Patten report 'flawed', says Police Federation
Disband the RUC protest
Republicans protest outside Andersonstown police station in west Belfast
The Police Federation of Northern Ireland (PFNI) has criticised the Patten Report into the future of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, describing it as "flawed".

In a statement the federation, which represents the majority of the 13,000-strong force, said the change of name amounted to a "repudiation of the professionalism, courage and sacrifice of our police officers".

It said: "In any other country we would be rewarded with a reaffirmation of the Royal prefix in our name. Here in Northern Ireland we are being stripped of it.

"There is no evidence that a change of name is sought by any significant numbers of people; nor do we believe that it will stimulate additional applications from the minority (Catholic) community to join."

'Need for an end to intimidation'

The PFNI goes on to say: "It is not just our name the extremists hate, it is the substance of what civilised policing stands for: the protection of the community without fear or favour, the prevention of crime and the elimination of the cancer of terrorism.

"It is not a name change which will bring forward minority recruits, it is a peace without intimidation."

But the federation says the second flaw in the report was even more fundamental.

It criticised Mr Patten's proposal to allow district councils to supplement the police service with private security firms.

"The introduction of a new and unregulated dimension into a role in policing, if not into the actual police service, is a potential act of folly," says the PFNI.

'Clutches of evil people'

The statement goes on: "We have an urgent need to eradicate the vigilantism, which while masquerading as policing terrorises the whole community.

"To regularise the activities of these people into officially supplementing the police service through district council control will be to deliver these communities irretrievably into the clutches of evil people.

"In effect the terrorists are walking out of the front door of the prisons and into our police stations through the back door."

The federation did welcome some aspects of the report such as:

  • The expansion of the part-time reserve
  • The setting up of a new training college
  • The civilianisation of the recruitment and equal opportunities unit
  • Healthy pay-offs for Protestant officers laid off as part of the attempt to improve the religious balance of the new police force

    But it says the abolition of a full-time police reserve will place two "inescapable obligations" on the government.

    'Reward retiring reservists'

    One is to ensure that the strength of the force is not reduced without full consideration of the security situation.

    "Secondly, the retirement of these officers must be rewarded with generous recompense," says the PFNI, which points out that 49 reservists were among the 302 RUC men and women killed during The Troubles.

    It says certain parts of the report, such as the creation of a new police board - including members of Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party - to oversee the force, needed clarification.

    "This body can clearly only come into being when all its members are committed to the democratic process and have no overt or covert links with paramilitaries."

    The federation says many of the reforms would have to wait for the peace process.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Audio
    Les Rogers, chairman of the Police Federation: "The name change is a betrayal of our murdered colleagues"
    Read BBC News Online's full special report on policing reform in Northern Ireland

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    09 Sep 99 | N Ireland
    09 Sep 99 | Talking Point
    09 Sep 99 | N Ireland
    09 Sep 99 | N Ireland
    09 Sep 99 | N Ireland
    09 Sep 99 | N Ireland
    10 Sep 99 | N Ireland
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