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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 05:42 GMT 06:42 UK
World 'can learn' from NI police
Al Hutchinson
Al Hutchinson has published his last report as oversight commissioner
The man appointed to oversee police reforms in Northern Ireland has said the rest of the world can learn from the changes that have been made.

But in his final report, Al Hutchinson also warned that the new beginning to policing could be damaged by continual investigations of events in the past.

The report said 140 of the 175 recommendations made by the Patten Commission have been implemented.

It also said the police are now fully accountable.

Special Branch has been reformed and the number of Catholic officers has increased from 8% to 21%.

However, the oversight commissioner said more must be done to increase Catholic representation in the top ranks of the police.

He also warned that investigations of the past by the Police Ombudsman and the Historical Enquiries Team could undermine confidence and says an alternative method to investigate the past must be found.

Overall, Mr Hutchinson said police reform in Northern Ireland had been a success.

"Many countries and organisations are now coming to Northern Ireland to take advantage of the many encouraging lessons," he said.

"Northern Ireland should be proud of its contribution and it will have much more to teach the world.

"It has been an honour for all of us to be a part of this epic transition."

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

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14 Dec 04 |  Northern Ireland

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