Baggott tells Policing Board there is no turning back on Reserves…

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott says there is no turning back on the fate of the full time police reserves. According to a Board member who listened to Mr Baggott this afternoon at a committee meeting of the Board he made it clear there will be no U turn. The source said he is satisfied with the Chief Constable’s explanation on how he plans to deal with the current dissident threat. The same Board member told Slugger O’Toole Mr Baggott in no sense gave any commitment to ‘underwrite’ anyone’s job when the current full time reserves leave the PSNI.

The DUP has been implying that the expertise and experience residing in the outgoing officers could be absorbed or harnessed somehow in a civilianised manner in the PSNI. The Chief Constable’s restatement on the reserves will come as a disappointment to Jeffrey Donaldson.

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  • joeCanuck

    Good for the Chief Constable. He is already putting his stamp on his job and sending a clear message to our politicians not to interfere with his operational control.

  • igor

    So PSNI pay off hundreds of officers (at huge additional cost) and then employ inexperienced new officers and more civil servants to add to the army of officials already pushing paper. This we are told will release other officers to fill the gaps in the ranks.

    So why then not just stop all the wasteful administration. Just stop it. Get rid of the forms and paper. Abandon the bureaucracy and cut the bloated size of Police HQs. Then you could keep the Reserve and have even more officers on patrol. Instead, in effect, we are promised more bureaucracy but done more cheaply by civil servants. No wonder they need all that extra cash! Gold plating that wire they are down to is sooooo expensive.

    But of course, its an operational matter and nothing to do with politics. That’s why Patten recommended it and SF and the SDLP keep pressing for it. It’s purely operational and not a sectarian headcount issue. Oh no.

  • Joe, those who believe in faeries might well believe that the Chief Constable has operational control over matters that might be considered politically ‘sensitive’ 🙂

  • DC

    He would say that.

  • joeCanuck

    Nevin, granted but it’s a long way from the old days when a Home Affairs Minister like Bill Craig gave the C.C. his marching orders or even anti-marching orders.

  • Is it, Joe? We don’t know what ‘political’ orders the CC may have been given recently and exchanges between London and Dublin officials aren’t subject to parliamentary scrutiny. We only discover what’s going on by accident or through the actions of whistle-blowers.

  • Joe, Kevin McAuley, an independent on Moyle DPP, did speak out about a cut-back in police resources a year ago and got the old ‘corporacy’ rebuke 🙂

    The purpose of the District Policing Partnership includes the need to encourage the public to co·operate with the Police. Mr McAuley’s actions are more likely to foster a mistrust of Police rather than to encourage engagement.

    I would ask that you address the unhelpful press release through the DPP and consider measures to ensure that whilst we can all hold differing opinion, corporacy is maintained in developing partnership working. Perhaps a meeting with you and Mr McAuley would allow some clarity of position.

    You might wonder why Kevin appears to have been the only one on the DPP who was prepared to step outside the ‘corporacy’ gag. More power to his elbow.

  • DC

    The police change was radical and not step-by-step in that it flushed out a lot of the old RUC quickly; now in a large part it was necessary but if there is only a couple of hundred left in a police service that is crying out for more incremental change I would say why not keep them on?

    I agree with you too Nevin about it re politicking all round – interpenetrated by Patten and the British Irish demands, which largely have been fair enough calls. Change was absolutely needed, no doubt about it.

    But 10 years’ worth of rapid change and shaking up and shaking out of those experienced appears to have left us with systemic failures and demoralisation as well.

    Policing hasn’t got better and Sir Hugh was found out on quite a few operational matters along with Sir Ronnie.

    In part the blame must rest with poor leadership from our politicians in not being realistic and supporting and fashioning change fairly so as to maintain a bit of stability in the change over. And to also try and influence change than stand back and point and ridicule, or seemingly reason irrationally over things like symbols that were never ever going t go the unionists way.

    If these officers are experienced I fail to see why they should be let go. I reckon it’s in a big part down to their salaries and the old terms and conditions when instead now there is a cadre of inexperienced personnel coming onboard for a cheaper policing fee. If it is cheaper policing you want, ditch the 50:50 and let’s not ‘police with the community’ but instead be policed by the community (perhaps part timers from local-ish areas) working in line with the new PSNI human rights conditions.

    It isn’t entirely baby-out-with-bathwater stuff but perhaps a few experienced hands would help than hinder? Who knows, who is asking these questions, Baggott is just simply saying No? Any chance of seeing his operational report and comparing that against the recently leaked PSNI report citing demoralisation and systemic problems and of course those unsuccessful prosecutions??

  • Comrade Stalin

    There is a lot of politicking going on, and it is just as strong among those who want to retain the reserve as it is among those who want to abolish it. Nobody has yet explained to me why the reserve need to be kept and what is so special about them.

    The stuff about the police being under strength comes from numbers derived from Patten. It is, in fact, something of a straitjacket, as there funding ring-fenced to recruit these extra officers which cannot be spent on anything else. I deal with a local police station quite a lot and I can tell you that their internal processes and systems are abysmal. That’s no reflection on the officers themselves. Huge amounts of work are done on paper which could be done electronically. As far as I can tell, officers aren’t equipped with a laptop and do not have any proper electronic logging systems with them when they are on patrol.

    It’s stupid recruiting more officers to put them into an organization which is as hugely inefficient with resources as the PSNI is. The current numbers are probably about right. Increasing the police presence in public could be achieved by reducing the administrative workload through better use of technology.

  • DC, I’m old enough to remember policing when the police were recruited from a distance, lived over or beside the shop, had their finger on the pulse of the local community – and their fingers on the collars of the local hoodlums.

    Drive-by policing seems to be the custom now and I’m fearful of ‘officially sanctioned’ collusion with ‘chosen’ local paramilitary godfathers where the latter are delegated a ‘dirty’ role in community control.

    Some years ago NuLabour contemplated drafting former paramilitary prisoners into the ranks. An announcement was to be made the following week. I passed on the vision of a ‘baseball bat with a blue flashing light’ from an old BBC messageboard friend to a Minister’s London office. The reaction was immediate, “The political cartoonists would have a field day”. The announcement never came.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Oh, Nevin, you’re so . eh ….. forceful!

  • aquifer

    Unionists can be counted upon to chose lost causes, preferably logically indefensible ones.

    What do they want? A token of English affection?

    For someone to tell a British citizen who happens to be of the Catholic religion ‘Croppie lie down’?

    They might wait a while.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, those days aren’t coming back – rightly or wrongly. And either way, I hope your apparent support for the retention of the FTR is borne of something more than nostalgia.

    Nolan raised a good point this morning. Why weren’t these reservists part of the RUC ?

  • CS, I was highlighting the deficit of constables, the surfeit of superintendents, the inclusion of students and the apparent officially sponsored cosy relationship between the police and chosen ne’er-do-wells. I’d previously put the boot into Mary McAleese on the latter point.

    Sorry. Don’t have an answer to the Nolan question. Perhaps it had something to do with the nature of their contracts, pension rights, that sort of thing.

  • CS, you’re spot on about the use of modern technology but the finger on the pulse stuff needs officers to be living in the community in regular chats with local people. One of the Patten team from the US had expertise in modern policing communications IIRC.

  • Pancho, I’m in touch with a broad spectrum of folks – whether they wish it or not 🙂

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    I think Nolan suggested that the reservists were people who could not make the cut into the full time RUC. Which, if true, opens up further questions. We seem to have an obsession around these parts with “special” forces. The FTR and PTR qualify as “special”, because googling and searching the PSNI website, I can’t find a word about why they exist, how they are organized, what their relationship is with the mainstream force, etc. I’m wondering if that is the whole point; by “reserve” does that mean they’re off to one side, bypassing normal mechanisms of accountability and oversight ?

    The language in your contribution evokes the kind of language about the traditional stolid bobby, and foolish criminal, that one might expect to find in an Enid Blyton novel. Times have changed since the 1950s/60s (and the culture of living above the shop – which, if you read Chris Ryder’s book on the RUC, was accompanied by problems – specifically the stash of alcohol in the station super’s quarters which was brought out to calm nerves after trouble reared its head). Criminals don’t care about authority, or the police.

    On the subject of police living in the community. I’d love us to get to the point where you might have a police officer living next door just like any other civil servant, without them having to be so secretive about it. But I’m not sure this can happen here, and I’m not sure it happens much elsewhere in the UK.

    I was up in a DPP meeting a few years ago and was talking to an officer about anti-social behaviour. He and his family had problems with kids causing him bother in his neighbourhood. He was fearful that it would get worse if he used his authority as a police officer to deal with the issue, so he eventually moved away. To me that was the crux of many of our problems summed up in one place.

  • CS, the reservist role is certainly very confusing. Perhaps they’re there to do a job that elsewhere might be done by military personnel and the FTRs have been drafted in to plug gaps in the full time network.

    I’ve not read Enid Blyton or Chris Ryder but I do talk to people locally and there is a general feeling that police no longer know who’s who in local communities and when bad thing’s happen they haven’t got a list of likely suspects. I doubt if criminals back then cared any more for authority than they do now but it’s my feeling that they would have been more speedily apprehended.

    I also find it disturbing when supposedly respectable members of the community by-pass the police and go directly to the local paramilitary godfathers. Put this alongside the observation made by police that they can observe certain paramilitary wrong-doing but they can’t intervene without political clearance – the long term ‘not ruffling paramilitary feathers’ strategy.

  • bigchiefally

    Ultimately I suppose everyone has to ask “Do we have too many cops at the minute?”

    If yes, then getting rid of a couple hundred in a hangover unit from the troubles is fair enough.

    If no, then how does this make sense?

    Do SF and the SDLP really think we have too many cops for the job? Politically, given that they are both now on board with the PSNI I honestly dont know why they are pushing for these officers to go.

    I’m genuinely interested – aside from “because Patten recommended it” why are they so keen for us to have less cops?

  • Neil

    Nevin,

    obviously things are different depending on who you speak to and what ‘side of the fence’ they’re from. For Republicans areas these days there is an obvious vacuum where the provos would have been at work before.

    The cops still don’t bother themselves too much in certain places, and the hoods are in their element. This is why people turn to paramilitaries. I myself have phoned the police numerous times to report crimes which I have stated each time I would provide a witness to, or when the crime committed was against someone else I would provide a statement. Not once did the cops actually do anything other than provide a sympathetic ear.

    The police inaction is the one thing that will allow the dissers to succeed. People will welcome anything that allows them to live their life free of fear, I for one can understand that 100%. If the R/CIRA provide that for people they will have the support they need.

  • drunk as a rule

    I just checked the PSNI’s thesupportteam.org and I can’t see any civilian jobs advertised. So how are they intending to get these other cops back onto the streets if that haven’t even started the campaign to do this?

    Can anyone else help me find where they are?

    And a community wanting less Police, well it could only happen in Northern Ireland.

  • Neil, it’s very difficult to get a handle on this police inaction. There’s been so much political ‘interference’ in policing and an apparent disjoint between policing and the rest of the justice system that you can understand why lots of police officers would say to themselves, “What’s the point of going after people for misdemeanours if no further action is taken?”

    Prior to SF joining the Policing Board and DPPs there were allegations that there was a softly softly political edict in place in areas that had SF councillors. For example, there’s anecdotal evidence that ‘serial’ driving offenders were treated far more leniently in such areas than in other parts of the council district. It wasn’t too difficult for councillors to note such apparent variations in the application of the law in conversations with said offenders.

    The paramilitary response will be speedy, possibly brutal and probably selective. There’s another paramilitary dimension at work here according to an item of hearsay from a police source. It’s alleged that there’s a significant drug habit amongst young officers and that it is being fed by their paramilitary acquaintances. If so, the position of such officers has been compromised.

    The rights without responsibilities culture that has been fostered for quite some time is a wonderful breeding ground for hoods.

  • Submariner

    There’s another paramilitary dimension at work here according to an item of hearsay from a police source. It’s alleged that there’s a significant drug habit amongst young officers and that it is being fed by their paramilitary acquaintances. If so, the position of such officers has been compromised.

    Absolutely scandalous comments form Nevin the serial conspiracy theorist. Where is your evidence UTC or do you believe its all a Jesuit plot.

  • Alan – Newtownards

    Why are they making these officers work on until 2011 if there is no need for them? Let them go now if they are surplus to requirement. Why should they have have to risk their lives for two more years?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin,

    In terms of direct criminal problems, I don’t see that we have any problems which are not experienced elsewhere in the UK. If you ask people what kind of crime effects them the most, they will probably tell you anti social behaviour/youths causing annoyance. Note the stories from England recently about that group of kids who drove a woman with a disabled child to suicide. Or the kids who put the firework through that woman’s letterbox, burning her house down and killing her.

    I am not sure of this “back then, they knew who all the troublemakers were” theme you have going. The troublemakers now are well known. The problem that people in general, including criminals, are better educated about their rights and the powers of the police and courts.

    In my district, many of the known problems are attributable to one young person in his mid-teens who is well-known to the police. Despite his reputation, and the fact that he always seems to be around when there is trouble but is standing just far enough away for plausible deniability, they are not able to do anything about him.

    The only solution to this, and to the anti-social behaviour that plagues places like West Belfast, is to come up with relatively draconian measures. Such as curfews, offences for persistently being in the vicinity of trouble, and holding parents liable for the actions of their children.

    In terms of the paramilitary angle, well, that’s politics. About 80% of us vote for politicians who do not seem to want the police to come forward and root the paramilitaries out. That’s where we need to look first, if we want this problem fixed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I do not accept that there is a drug problem among police officers. Police are occasionally drug tested. There was one case that reached the media a few years ago about a couple of officers who bragged about their exploits on a trip to Amsterdam. Someone overheard, they were called in and tested, evidence of cannabis consumption was found, and they were summarily dismissed.

    It’s not easy to keep a serious habit (with dope, alcohol, or anything else) secret for very long. I really doubt that this is tolerated where known about among the senior ranks.

  • paddy

    comrade stalin.r u .suggesting internment.

  • Bravo Delta 25

    The FTR were originally recruited on three-year contracts for ‘security duties’, this was in the main the defence of police stations. They received limited training in police duties, i.e the detection and investigation of crime and road traffic offences.

    The remaining Reserve having served multiple contracts, and with the introduction of technology making station defence less labour intensive allowing them access to operational police training and patrol duties, means they are now an experienced police resource.

    The decision to remove them has little to do with “operational” matters and rather more with a political imperative driven by the Patten debacle. A process that has already sacrificed police professionalism on the altar of police ‘acceptability’.

    Whatever way the PSNI spins it this decision will have a negative impact on response policing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    comrade stalin.r u .suggesting internment.

    No.

  • Good for the Chief Constable. most of accidents caused by un noted and sudden u turn . he was more good enough at this point.

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  • The chief constable statement is true thing and moreover,most of the accident happened these kind of U turns and careless driving….

  • We only discovered what happened accidentally, or through the actions of informers.

    Why do they serve these staff until 2011, if not their needs? Now let them go, if they are over-supply situation. Why do they want to risk two years of their lives? Article Marketing