|Police Service of Northern Ireland (incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary)|
|Common name||Police Service of Northern Ireland|
|Badge of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary).|
|Flag of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary).|
|Formed||4 November, 2001|
|Preceding agency||Royal Ulster Constabulary|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Operations jurisdiction*||Country of Northern Ireland, UK|
|Police Service of Northern Ireland area|
|Population||Approx 1.7 million|
|Governing body||Northern Ireland Policing Board|
|Agency executive||Matt Baggott, Chief Constable|
|* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.|
The Police Service of Northern Ireland GC (Irish: Seirbhís Phóilíneachta Thuaisceart Éireann, Ulster Scots: Polis Service o Norlin Airlan) is the police service that covers Northern Ireland. It is the successor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary a controversial police force which, in turn, was the successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary.
The RUC was renamed on 4 November 2001 as a result of a 10 year reform of policing set up under the Belfast Agreement. This agreement required the creation of an Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, which became known as the Patten Commission after its chairman, Chris Patten. He originally proposed the name Northern Ireland Police Service; however the abbreviation NIPS was thought inappropriate for a variety of reasons. The final decision included in the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 was to rename the force to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (incorporating the Royal Ulster Constabulary), to be shortened to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for operational purposes.
All major political parties in Northern Ireland, Nationalist and Unionist support the PSNI. At first the political party Sinn Féin, which represents about a quarter of Northern Ireland voters, had refused to endorse the PSNI until Patten's recommendations are implemented in full. However, as part of the St Andrews Agreement Sinn Féin announced its full acceptance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland at a special Ard Fheis on the issue of policing on 28 January 2007.
The other major nationalist party in the region, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), has joined the Northern Ireland Policing Board and says that it is satisfied that the Patten recommendations are being implemented. In the summer of 2005, the SDLP's Alex Attwood estimated that 80% of Patten's recommendations have been implemented.
In 2001 the old police divisions and sub-divisions were replaced with 29 District Command Units(DCUs), broadly coterminous with local council areas. In 2007 these 29 Districts were replaced by 8 Districts ('A' through 'H') in anticipation of local government restructuring under the Review of Public Administration (RPA). These council boundaries have not been finalised by the Northern Ireland Assembly, however, and may change. Each district is headed by a chief superintendent. Districts are divided into areas, commanded by a chief inspector and they in turn are divided into sectors, commanded by inspectors.
Police Officers of the PSNI have full police powers throughout Northern Ireland and the adjacent United Kingdom waters. Generally they do not have any police powers in the other two legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom - England & Wales or Scotland.
The PSNI is supervised by the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland deals with any complaints regarding the PSNI and investigates any allegations of misconduct by police officers. The current Police Ombudsman is former Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchinson who took over from Nuala O'Loan in November 2007.
The Oversight Commissioner was appointed to ensure that the Patten recommendations were implemented 'comprehensively and faithfully' and attempted to assure the community that all aspects of the report were being implemented and being seen to be implemented. The Oversight role ended on 31 May 2007, with the final report indicating that of Patten's 175 recommendations, 140 had been completed with a further 16 "substantially completed" 
The PSNI has a positive discrimination policy of recruiting 50% of its officers from a Catholic background and 50% from a non-Catholic background, in order to avert the perceived religious imbalance that existed towards the RUC from Nationalists and as recommended by the Patten Report. Deloitte recruit officers on behalf of the PSNI. The name and symbols of the organisation are designed to incorporate both aspects of Northern Ireland's Community. It is hoped that 30% of the force will be made up of Catholics by 2011. By 2006, 20% of PSNI officers were Catholic, compared with just 8.3% of the old RUC.
In September 2006 it was confirmed that Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie approved the PSNI policy of using children as informants including in exceptional circumstances to inform on their own family but not their parents. The document added safeguards included having a parent or "appropriate adult" present at meetings between juveniles and their handler. It also stressed a child's welfare should be paramount when considering the controversial tactics and required that any risk had been properly explained to them and a risk assessment completed.
The colour of the PSNI uniform is green. Pre-1970s RUC uniforms retained a dark green, which was often mistaken as black. A lighter shade of green was introduced following the Hunt reforms of the early 1970s, although Hunt recommended that British blue should be introduced. The Patten report, however, recommended the retention of the green uniform (Recommendation No. 154) . The RUC officially described this as 'rifle green'. When the six new versions of the PSNI uniform were introduced, in March 2002, the term 'bottle green' was used for basically the same colour. This was perhaps seen as being a less confrontational description, in keeping with the spirit of the time.
The PSNI badge features the St. Patrick's saltire, and six symbols representing different and shared traditions:
The flag of the PSNI is the badge in the centre of a dark green field. Under the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 no other flag can be used by the PSNI and it is the only one permitted to be flown on any PSNI building, vehicle, aircraft or even vessel.
PSNI officers now routinely wear flak jackets as opposed to the stab vests worn by most UK police officers and the Gardaí. Flak jackets were reintroduced for officers in Ballymena in late 2004, and in December 2007 for PSNI officers patrolling in the Greater Belfast & Greater Derry City areas owing to the threat from dissident republicans. More conspicuous than stab vests (owing to the fact they are worn over high-viz jackets), flak jackets have become an increasingly common sight on officers across Northern Ireland in recent years.
Unlike the majority of police forces in the United Kingdom, the PSNI is the only territorial police force that is routinely armed. Officers are issued Glock 17 semi-automatic pistols, replacing the Ruger Security Six revolvers that the RUC, and later PSNI were issued with. Previously they routinely carried long arms: either the Heckler & Koch MP5, or rifles such as Heckler & Koch G3s, G36Cs or HK33s as well as Ruger Mini-14 select fire rifles, however the Heckler & Koch weapons are still routinely carried in areas of higher threat such as North and West Belfast or various border areas.
The most well known PSNI vehicle is the Land Rover Tangi but with the improving security situation these are less likely to be used for everyday patrols and are more likely to be used for crowd control instead. Typical vehicles include MG ZTs, Skoda Octavias, Vauxhall Vectras, Ford Mondeos and Volkswagen Passat Estates. 4X4 vehicles include Mitsubishi Shoguns and Range Rovers. Higher spec cars include Volkswagen Golf R32s, Vauxhall Vectra VXRs and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions. Many older armoured vehicles are still in use, but newer cars are more likely to be non-armoured. They have also taken delivery of some new BMW R 1200 RT motorbikes to replace the old Honda motorbikes which they have.
In May 2005 the PSNI took delivery of its first helicopter, a Eurocopter EC 135, registration G-PSNI. The PSNI (and the RUC) relied heavily on British Army helicopter support during the Troubles and into the 21st century.
Other items of equipment include Hiatts Speedcuffs, CS (irritant) Spray, extendible batons, a first aid pouch, an encrypted radio and a torch with traffic wand.
The senior officer in charge of the PSNI is its Chief Constable. To date this position has been held by four people:
Weitzer, Ronald. 1995. Policing Under Fire: Ethnic Conflict and Police-Community Relations in Northern Ireland (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press).
Weitzer, Ronald. 1996. “Police Reform in Northern Ireland,” Police Studies, v.19, no.2. pages:27-43.
Weitzer, Ronald. 1992. “Northern Ireland's Police Liaison Committees,” Policing and Society, vol.2, no.3, pages 233-243.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) (Irish: Seirbhís Póilíneachta Thuaisceart Éireann) is the police service that covers Northern Ireland. It was started on 4 November 2001. The old police service for Northern Ireland was the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The service is based in Cherryvalley, east Belfast. The current Chief Constable is Sir Hugh Orde OBE. The old Chief Constables were Sir Ronnie Flanagan OBE and Colin Cramphorn.
All the big political parties in Northern Ireland support the PSNI. Earlier, the political party Sinn Féin, who have many supporters, did not support the police. But after the St Andrews Agreement they decided to support them after a special Ard Fheis about the police on 28 January 2007. In September 2005 the PSNI started the Historical Enquiries Team to help solve 3,269 murders that happened during the Troubles. The Northern Ireland Policing Board make sure that the PSNI are fair and do a good job. The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland investigates complaints about the police. The current Police Ombudsman is Al Hutchinson. The last Ombudsman was Nuala O'Loan. She was the Ombudsman until November 2007.
The PSNI gives 50% of its jobs to Roman Catholics and 50% of its jobs to people who are not Roman Catholic. This is because many people think there are not enough Roman Catholics in the PSNI. By 2006, 20% of PSNI policemen were Roman Catholic. Only 8.3% of policemen in the old Royal Ulster Constabulary were Roman Catholic. About 30% of the force will be Roman Catholics by 2011.
The colour of the PSNI uniform is green. The PSNI badge has Saint Patrick's saltire on it and six other symbols. They are the scales of justice, the harp, the torch, the olive branch, the shamrock and a crown. The flag of the PSNI is the badge in the centre of a dark green field.