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.