Local policing, accountability and the general public

The “when will they – won’t they debate” about Sinn Fein and policing and measuring how much of Patten has or hasn’t been implemented, has meant that there is little debate about the effectiveness of individual Patten reforms. The Belfast Telegraph has revealed the public meetings of District Policing Partnerships are receiving very little public interest despite widespread promotion. This pattern would appear to be common across all communities.The DPP’s were to be a central part of the devolution of policing. Local commanders were to be empowered to be the decision-makers and accountable through DPP’s. This was based upon international good practice. However, despite Orde’s best efforts, “Headquarters is to blame because…” is still blithely accepted as a good enough excuse. Also, in dealings with the PSNI there seems to be a culture of “we can’t do” and precious little “we can do”.

From talking to members of the DPPs frustration with their value is not restricted to the general public. There are also repeated anecdotes that those who were the most proactive on DPP’s the first time had a high attrition rate when seeking a second term. With an annual cost of approximately £4m it may be time to revisit how DPP’s are working and ensure value for money is being achieved.

  • I remember going to a meeting of the South Belfast DPP in the City Hall in June 2004. Aside from two journalists I was the only member of the public there.
    The DUP’s Ruth Patterson, who was chairing the meeting, blamed the low attendance on a “big football match” that was being played at the same time.
    It was a Euro 2004 Group A game between Russia and Portugal (big game indeed!).
    Locations of the meetings also provide a problem. One South Belfast DPP meeting was held in a community centre in Sandy Row, the next one is in Olympia Leisure centre on the Donegall Road. Neither place is very welcoming for Catholics.

  • joeCanuck

    Belfast Telegraph
    McGuinness in clear after ‘spy’ probe

    By Brian Rowan
    12 June 2006

    The Secretary of State has been told there is no substance to the Martin McGuinness spy allegations, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.

    All intelligence agencies – Army, MI5, MI6 and Police – were asked to provide Peter Hain with a “full account” of information following recent newspaper reports naming McGuinness as a British spy and claiming that MI6 had encouraged the IRA to use the so-called human bomb tactic.

    Senior political sources speaking to this newspaper revealed details of the Hain “investigation” and confirmed that checks had been made with all intelligence departments – special branch, security services and military.

    According to one source, it was quickly established that the allegations were “rubbish” – “total nonsense”.

  • fair_deal


    Will open as another thread

  • joeCanuck


  • the next one is in Olympia Leisure centre on the Donegall Road.

    Actually it’s on the Boucher Road.

  • Betty Boo

    Fair Deal,

    it seems to me that any police as such and no matter where has an image problem.
    I didn’t like them in East Germany, I didn’t like them in the united German Vaterland, couldn’t stand them as I moved to Derry and sure have no heart feelings for them now here in Donegal.
    The problem is not just local. And it comes from a general disenchantment, anger and mistrust.

  • gg

    I went to a public meeting of the Policing Board once. I think I was the only member of the public there, apart from the family who wanted to protest over some issue. I was rather shocked at the lavish refreshments offered and wondered if a more modest spread wouldn’t have been more appropriate given the public money being spent. But I suppose the second-rate NI journalists and hangers-on expect something to brighten up their day.

    In any case, the actual policing board meeting was interesting enough, but I was quite horrified at Ian Paisley Jr who I felt was just being akward for the sake of it and trying to score points. I think he does that all the time though, almost as if he thinks he needs to ham it up, but is a bit embarrassed about it.

  • heres hoping

    Do people not think that its the format of the meetings and the level of actual accountability which stops people from participating in these meetings, questions have to be asked in writing in advance the psni can hide behind operational matters and if a question is answered there is very little scope for dicussion or members of the public to make suggestions. At best they are information giving sessions on how good the police are doing.

    The SDLP on these partnerships and the board are in no mans land because they do not want to criticise or challenge the psni because they do not want to give the impressions that the psni is not perfect.

  • Rapunsel

    Had a glance at the BT story tonight , the picture is of a few people in what appears to be an Orange Hall somewhere in Ballymoney Council area. Hardly surprising that not many people attend when the choice of the venue would alienate part of the population anyway. I have found in my own experience that relationships between police and public take time to develop and don’t necessarily do so at this type of public meeting. Ongoing participation and attendance at meetings of community groups and residents groups , slow building of relationships between key community leaders is more effective.

  • tiny

    the simple truth is people just want the police to get on with the job,