Reserve cuts short of Patten, big on payouts
Just over 800 full-time police reservists, who are
overwhelmingly Protestant, have been offered severance packages
worth up to a hundred thousand pounds sterling as a lump sum,
with a pension to follow.
The planned reduction of the reserve by some 55 per cent has
dismayed nationalists as it fails to implement the
recommendations of the Patten Commission, set up under the 1998
Good Friday Agreement. The Patten Commission recommended that
the reserve, founded 33 years ago to support the former RUC, be
Those not accepting the severance package may apply to join the
main PSNI ranks or sign a 3-year contract to remain in the
PSNI Chief Hugh Orde announced his decision to the Policing
Board at their headquarters in Belfast yesterday.
The decision angered the Police Federation, which represents the
reserve officers. Its leader said he was appalled at Mr Orde's
Unionists and the Alliance Party were also angry, believing the
PSNI to be short of frontline officers. David Trimble, the
Ulster Unionist leader said: "The Chief Constable must now
address how he can restore his credibility." Sammy Wilson of the
DUP said the decision marked "a loss for everyone".
Sinn Fein criticised the move, pointing out that it was contrary
to the Patten recommendations. But the SDLP, which unlike Sinn
Fein has taken its seats on the Policing Board which runs the
PSNI, said it was a good day for policing.
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly said the
full-time reserve was established in 1970 as a "unionist
militia" within the RUC.
"It is unrepresentative and is associated with some of the worst
excesses of a failed policing agenda. Therefore for progress to
be made towards a new beginning it has to be removed from the
"It is five years to the day since the Patten Report was
launched. Patten was very clear that the Full Time Reserve
should be quickly phased out. This has not happened. The
Policing Board with the support of the SDLP have allowed this
force to remain within the current policing structures. This is
He also said that nationalists had been angered at the massive
severance package agreed for those reservists who wish to leave.
"It seems as if failed and unrepresentative policing is being
rewarded with massive amounts of public money."
Mr Orde said he was confident the move was the right decision
and was based solely on policing and operational considerations.
He added: "It is an operational decision that takes the current
security situation into account and I accept responsibility for
Mr Orde said "dissident" republican groups remained the most
significant threat to policing. "There is every indication that
they will maintain attacks on police patrols and stations."