- 17.1 The culture and ethos of an organization include both the way in which it sees itself and manages
itself internally and the way in which it sees and interacts with its clients and others outside the
organization. Culture and ethos are hard to gauge and judgments made about the culture and
ethos of others are inevitably subjective. We have tried to be as comprehensive and as objective as
we can in our approach to this aspect of our terms of reference. We have consulted widely within
the RUC and within different communities in Northern Ireland as to how the police see
themselves and how they are seen by others. We conducted a cultural audit of the entire police
establishment, officers and civilians, and over 6,250 or almost 40% responded (a high response
rate for exercises of this kind). We also gained valuable insights from the project (begun in 1997)
which is being conducted with the police by Mediation Network.
- 17.2 Many of the findings of these researches have been mentioned in earlier chapters of this report.
The police in Northern Ireland pride themselves on their professionalism and on the way they
have faced up to the security challenges of the past thirty years. The security environment has
pitted them against elements from both the republican and loyalist communities, and the effect
of these clashes and the risk to police officers of living in or delivering normal policing services in
some areas has created a gulf between the police and many neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland.
The pervasive security threat against police has extended right across Northern Ireland and, to
protect themselves from attack, the police have resorted to methods of policing that have
separated them from the community to some extent even in areas where the local residents are
not themselves hostile to the police. Partly because of all this, the RUC has remained somewhat
militaristic and hierarchical compared with other police services, and has been slow to move
towards the culture of customer service, public consultation and openness, problemsolving
communitybased policing, and devolved management that many other police services are now
well into the process of developing. Like many other police services it has also done little to instil
a human rightsbased culture.
- 17.3 The recommendations we have made in preceding chapters should address many of these
problems. We have recommended a programme to reorient policing onto a human rightsbased
approach. We have recommended community accountability mechanisms at local and central
levels, and a policy of complete transparency about police work except when the public interest
would be damaged. We have recommended, subject to the security situation, that policing in and
with the community should become the main focus of police work, delivered in a more flexible
and accessible manner than in the past. We have recommended a transformation of management
style, civilianisation of up to 1,000 posts at all levels of the organization, and a determined effort
to alter the composition of the police service so that it is more representative of the population. If
implemented, these recommendations would inevitably bring about dramatic change to the
culture and ethos of the police organization. As we noted in Chapter 10, our cultural audit showed
that an encouragingly large proportion of police said they would welcome change.
- 17.4 Many people in Northern Ireland from the Irish nationalist and republican tradition regard the
name, badge and symbols of the Royal Ulster Constabulary as associating the police with the
British constitution and state. This contributes to the perception that the police are not their
police. On the other hand, many people in Northern Ireland from the unionist tradition consider
it perfectly natural that a service provided and funded by the state should signal its provenance.
The problem is that the name of the RUC, and to some extent the badge and the uniform too,
have become politicised -- one community effectively claiming ownership of the name of "our''
police force, and the other community taking the position that the name is symbolic of a
relationship between the police and unionism and the British state. The argument about symbols
is not an argument about policing, but an argument about the constitution.
- 17.5 Where a police service operates in part of a country in which virtually all of the people share the
same constitutional allegiance, there is no real difficulty when the police adopt a name or symbols
reflecting that allegiance. But in Northern Ireland, where the constitutional aspirations of the
inhabitants conflict, the use of words or symbols perceived to associate the police with one side of
the constitutional argument must inevitably go some way to inhibiting the wholehearted
participation in policing of those who espouse the other side of that argument.
- 17.6 In Chapter 1 we quoted the reference in the Agreement to "the opportunity for a new beginning
to policing Northern Ireland with a police service capable of attracting and sustaining support
from the community as a whole''. In our judgment that new beginning cannot be achieved unless
the reality that part of the community feels unable to identify with the present name and symbols
associated with the police is addressed. Like the unique constitutional arrangements, our
proposals seek to achieve a situation in which people can be British, Irish or Northern Irish, as
they wish, and all regard the police service as their own. We therefore recommend:
• that while we have not accepted the argument that the Royal Ulster Constabulary should be disbanded, it should henceforth be named the Northern Ireland Police Service
• that the Northern Ireland Police Service adopt a new badge and symbols which are entirely free from any association with either the British or Irish states (we note that the Assembly was able to adopt a crest acceptable to all parties)
• that the Union flag should no longer be flown from police buildings
• that, on those occasions on which it is appropriate to fly a flag on police buildings, the flag flown should be that of the Northern Ireland Police Service and it, too, should be free from association with the British or Irish states.
- 17.7 We are conscious that in some quarters in Northern Ireland our recommendations may be seen as
some sort of repudiation of the sacrifice and service of thousands of RUC officers who have not only
performed their duties with professionalism and fortitude but who have also faced, and on many
occasions suffered, death and injury. Such a view would be profoundly mistaken. We do not
recommend the disbandment of the RUC, which would in any case be impractical. Our
recommendations are designed to achieve a transformation of policing in Northern Ireland to meet
the requirements agreed by the parties to the Agreement and endorsed by the people of Northern
Ireland in a referendum. We consider it important that the link between the RUC and the new
Northern Ireland Police Service be recognized and to this end we recommend that the colour of the current police uniform be retained. However, we have been persuaded by the Police Federation and individual officers who commented on the present uniform that it is somewhat outdated and we recommend that a new, more practical style of uniform be provided to police officers.
- 17.8 Consistent with our recognition of the dedication and sacrifice of officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and of the continuity between the past and the future we emphasise that our
proposed changes do not extend to existing memorials in police stations. We recommend that such memorials should remain as they are and where they are.
- 17.9 Employers are required under Northern Ireland's fair employment legislation to create and
sustain a neutral work place. The creation of a neutral working environment, both for police
officers and civilians and for members of the public and others visiting police buildings, goes
much deeper than symbols. Our cultural audit showed that, although most police officers and
civilians from minority groups do not feel under threat or intimidation in the workplace, more
than half have experienced incidents of harassment or offensive behaviour at some time over the
past five years. The statistics are not alarmingly high -- it would be a rare organization where
nothing of this sort occurred over a five year period. But they show that there is a problem here
to be taken seriously, especially because it is our intention that the police service should become
much more diverse over a short period of time. The aim must be that the police service should
recruit not only more Catholics, but nationalists (of whom there are some but not many at the
moment) and republicans (of whom there are almost certainly none now); and that there should
be many more women, and, we hope, also more members from ethnic minorities and greater
tolerance of sexual diversity. So the challenge of maintaining a neutral working environment will
be more important than at present. We recommend that the maintenance of a neutral working environment should become an assessed management responsibility at all levels of management.
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