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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK

UK: Northern Ireland

Warning over RUC numbers

Les Rodgers warns against cutting police numbers

The Government has been warned that any decision to cut police numbers in Northern Ireland can only be made against a totally peaceful background.

The comments were made by the chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Les Rodgers, during a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool on Tuesday.

Mr Rodgers said any decision to down size the Royal Ulster Constabulary at this stage would be "pure madness".

"This cannot be done without a full political settlement," he said.

Mr Rodgers comments came in the wake of the publication of the Patten report on the future of policing in Northern Ireland.

The report, by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, made 175 recommendations.

Included in the proposals was a suggestion, that if conditions were right, the number of RUC officers could be reduced.

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