The police service of Northern Ireland

Authored by: Aogán Mulcahy

Handbook of Policing

Print publication date:  August  2008
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9781843925002
eBook ISBN: 9780203118238
Adobe ISBN: 9781136308529


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Northern Ireland currently occupies a hugely prominent position globally in respect of police reform debates. Although the historical ‘lessons’ from Northern Ireland were invariably negative (Mulcahy 2005), the ambitious police reform programme outlined in the 1999 Patten Report, and which formed a key pillar of the peace process, has moved Northern Ireland centre-stage as a ‘model’ for debates about police reform generally. This chapter outlines historical and contemporary developments in relation to policing in Northern Ireland. First, I consider the historical context of policing during the Troubles, particularly in terms of the role of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and its relationship with the public. I then examine the issue of police reform during the peace process, discussing in detail the recommendations of the 1999 Patten Report. The third section assesses the implementation of the reform programme, the emergence of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and the impact of this on police oversight and operational policing. The chapter concludes by considering the implications of these developments for wider debates on policing and police reform.

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