“Political Policing”

The NIO is currently recommending that the PSNI be reduced to a force of around 6,000 officers. This would be down from a high 13,500 during the worst of times; it is also less than the 7,500 recommended by the Patten Report. This reflects the ‘normalisation’ agenda. Ironically enough, this move has been approved by none other than former RUC Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan. The Police Federation is not too happy about this, using the spectre of dissident republicans to barter for retaining more jobs. Ooops. Probably not the best argument to make prior to Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis.Sinn Fein is making their pitch based on the idea that the PSNI will be doing “civic policing” and not “political policing”. If an example was needed to make a nonsense of the idea that the police won’t be involved in politics, the Policing Federations’ argument about the numbers of PSNI members is a good one:

But Police Federation chairman Terry Spence warned that the proposal could possibly reduce the level of service to the public to one which is “dangerously unacceptable”.
He said: “The current threats to officers from dissident republicans creates an unacceptable security environment – as recent warnings about personal threats and reports of attempts to murder officers from headquarters have been made clear.”

The DUP and the UUP don’t even attempt to make a distinction between “civic” and “political” policing – they naturally assume it’s all one and the same.

DUP Policing Board member Ian Paisley Jnr said the recommendations showed no regard for the current situation in Northern Ireland.
“This has no connection with the situation on the ground. The current threat against regular officers from dissidents and others remains immense,” he said.
“The claim by the NIO that such a reduction of the police by 20 per cent would still keep the PSNI ahead of the rest of the UK by 30 per cent takes no account of the fact that the people in the rest of the UK are highly dissatisfied by the current number of police officers there.”
Ulster Unionist Fred Cobain also called for the number of PSNI officers not to be cut. “We are continuing to fight to keep the numbers up because there are big issues in Northern Ireland, not only with paramilitaries and social disturbance but geographically it’s a huge area to police for only 1.6 million people,” said the MLA.

So with the Policing Federation, the DUP, and the UUP all expecting the PSNI to be the ones to “police the peace” so to speak, and with dissident republicans high on the agenda of the PSNI’s to-do list, the questions about what Sinn Fein will be doing and advocating in regards to republicans and republican activity after they endorse the PSNI is a pertinent one. What will their attitude towards republican resistance become? “Crime is crime is crime, it is not political, it is crime”?

  • Johnny

    Another embarrassment for Gerry. Makes no difference though, the SF mainstream lost their critical faculties years ago. The story of the emperors new cloths come to mind every time I see a SF leaderfest.

  • Red Mist

    Embarrassing indeed…although at this juncture it should be more embarrassing for those members of SF still allowing themselves to be deluded by Gerry and co.

    Of course the PSNI will remain a political force, surely it cannot buck the whole western policing model.

    SF will try and take some comfort when arguing their case to their community that MI5 and the PSNI will be seperate. Who, can anyone tell me, will act upon the orders of MI5? Who will do the arresting, raiding, threatening, etc? I have yet to see a bus load of MI5 officers kicking front doors in or harrassing republicans on the street.

    No this will be the job of the storm troopers of the state…the PSNI.

  • Pete Baker


    You have that the wrong way round.

    The NIO is endorsing a recommendation by the HMIC.


    The HMIC review proposes that the number of regular police officers should reduce after 2010/11 overtime to 6028, to reflect the improving security situation and policing environment. However before any reduction is implemented a further review will be conducted in 2009.


  • seabhac siúlach

    Or as Ruairí O Brádaigh said, when speaking of the Provos recently…(2006 RSF Ard Fheis speech online)

    “When they don the Black-and-Tan uniform and take up the Tan gun and point it at the nationalists, does anyone think they will hesitate if ordered by their British masters to shoot? The sheer logic of the situation demands such an outcome. They will protect their ill-gotten gains, just as history teaches us.’

    Perhaps pertinent in light of the expected continuation of political policing…

  • Rory

    Oh, please, everyone, do stop being silly. Police numbers are being cut all across the UK as they are in the USA. Since the threat of a socialist Europe collapsed along with the USSR the necessity of a strong police force has diminished.

    The likliehood of serious civil disorder (i.e. a demand for just wage increases, affordable housing, care in old age or a working health service or educational system) can always be contained by hired thugs or the military .

    The well=off will find the employment of hired thugs (private security) much cheaper as a result of decreased taxation and will have the additional security of knowing that their protectors will not be wasting their time rushing to the aid of some miserable old plebian granny being robbed and beaten on her way to the shops by apprentice security guards in the enclaves of the toiling masses of the lower orders.

  • Henry94

    O’Loan uncovers RUC collusion with killers

    Northern Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan has found that several RUC Special Branch officers colluded with North Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force members who were involved in more than a dozen murders, senior sources have told The Irish Times.

    Her report, which will be published on Monday, finds that a significant number of Special Branch officers were complicit in protecting UVF agents or informers even though they knew they were directly involved in murders of Protestants and Catholics, the sources said.

    The report is based on an investigation known as Operation Ballast and will be handed to the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions who must then decide if former officers will face serious criminal charges.

    “There is intelligence within the policing system linking UVF members from its Mount Vernon unit in north Belfast to many killings, and that RUC Special Branch officers protected them from being made accountable to the law,” a senior source has said.

    The report was triggered by the 1997 UVF murder of Raymond McCord jnr, allegedly on the orders of UVF Mount Vernon leader Mark Haddock, who is currently serving 10 years for the grievous bodily harm of Trevor Gowdy, a doorman at a social club in Monkstown, near Belfast in 2002.

  • Mary

    More RUC/PSNI war crimes being exposed. Surely this makes them the perfect bed fellows for PSF who have an even more impressive list of war crimes to their credit.

  • cynic

    Interesting little plan this.

    As I recall the Patten Payoff ends in 2010 and PSNI will be about 30% drawn from the catholic commnity. Let’s assume that at that point PSNI then starts to lose another 1500 officers by natural wasteage. By definition almost all of those leaving will be old RUC ie 80% prod.

    This is a very clever way of suddenly further increasing the % of catholic officers by the back door from say 30% to 40% without spending a penny. Indeed, if they stop recruiting why would they ever need a police college to train so many officers? There’s another £60m saved.

    Game set and match to the NIO. No wonder Gerry’s smiling and the DUP’s are angry.

  • heck


    “The report is based on an investigation known as Operation Ballast and will be handed to the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions who must then decide if former officers will face serious criminal charges.”

    now I really feel good -a report about coverups in the “most accountable police force in Europe” has gone to the most accountable prosecution service in Europe.


    it will probably be dropped “in the public interest” or “because it will upset the peace process”

    nothing has changes.

  • I wonder…

    I wonder if Nuala has provided a satisfactory definition of “collusion” so that the evidence which there to indicate that the police ran/run paramilitary agents can be determined to fall within that definition?
    Running agents is not collusion, otherwise the police would be colluding as much with republican paramilitaries as loyalist ones.