Dickson welcomes police implementation plan

The Alliance Party has accepted the Secretary of State’s revised Implementation Plan for the police, while expressing reservations about certain details.

Local MLA David Ford said:

“Overall, Alliance is substantially reassured by the document, which is a fair attempt to obtain cross-community support for the new Police Service without compromising the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the police. I believe that this will mean a better police service to the people of South Antrim.”

“Alliance is committed to a single, integrated professional police service, representative of the whole community. The party welcomes the strong human rights ethos in the Plan, which will contribute to that aim.”

“We recognise the sacrifices made by RUC Officers over the years: the new proposals make it clear that the new Service is being built on the foundations established by the RUC and we support this.”

“We have told the Secretary of State that we have a number of continuing concerns on areas of the Plan that require ongoing assessment.”

“First, the methods of working and membership of District Policing Partnership Boards must be closely supervised, with increased powers only given on an incremental basis as they prove able to work constructively for the entire community.”

“It is an anomaly that former paramilitaries can join boards as political representatives, though not as community representatives. There should be a declaration of non-violence, similar to the Mitchell

Principles, for DPPB members.”

“Second, the Patten proposals for abolition of the Full-time Reserve and downsizing the service can only be implemented (as Patten said) in the light of the security situation, which is currently worse than at the time Patten reported.”

“In Antrim, Ballyclare and Newtownabbey there is an ongoing terrorist threat, as well as so-called ‘ordinary crime’ and ongoing public order problems. The increased recruitment for the Part-time Reserve must be a priority, and any reduction in Full-time numbers (whether regular or

reserve) must be based on a realistic assessment of operational needs.”

“Third, Alliance remains opposed to the 50:50 recruitment quotas, which are divisive, unnecessary and a breach of Human Rights directives. They are due for review every three years. Alliance insists that these reviews are thoroughly carried out, to assess the problems, as well as any benefits, from keeping quotas. They must be removed as soon as possible.”

David Ford concluded: “While the decision of the SDLP to support the new proposals is belated, it is to be welcomed. It puts on a formal basis the way in which SDLP representatives, not least in areas like South Antrim, have worked with the police at a local level for many years.”

“It is now time for Unionists to also endorse the new proposals and give practical support to the Police Service, rather than mere rhetoric. Unfortunately, it appears that some local representatives are more concerned to talk about their concern for the RUC than to assist in establishing a new Police Service which is representative of the whole community.”


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