Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, has responded to
speculation that the Government may be about to make further concessions
allowing paramilitaries to participate formally in ‘community policing’
through stressing that all the people in Northern Ireland serve the same
high standards of policing.
Stephen Farry stated:
“Every citizen in Northern Ireland is entitled to and should receive the
same high standard of professional policing.
“In building a police service for a shared society two fundamental points
must be clear.
“First, it must be recognised that within a professional police service, as
the PSNI undoubtedly is, every officer, irrespective of their personal
background, should be capable of providing the same professional service to
any part of Northern Ireland. The notion of Loyalist paramilitaries policing
Loyalist areas, or Republicans policing Republican areas, or indeed
Protestant officers policing Protestants or Catholic officers policing
Catholics, is not only unnecessary but absolutely abhorrent.
“Second, the police service should as far as possible be representative of
society as a whole, but this cannot be at the expense of professional
standards. However, those with criminal convictions above a certain level
should not be considered. This point however would not exclude many from
Republican and Loyalist backgrounds from joining the police.
“Community restorative justice has a dubious history in Northern Ireland.
Around the world, there is a growing acknowledgment of the role that
restorative justice can play in both dealing the needs of victims and the
rehabilitating offenders. But it is best practiced through statutory
agencies. At the time, when the PSNI have rightly become the most monitored
and accountable police service in the world, the procedures for ensuring the
high standards of human rights and due process in CRJ are not yet in place.
“The Government must make clear to Republicans that the only way forward on
policing is for Republicans to accept the full legitimacy of the police and
criminal justice system. To anything else would be to condemn some people in
Northern Ireland to inferior quality of policing.”