The Independent Commission On Policing For Northern Ireland, headed by Lord Patten, concluded in its 1999 report ‘A new beginning for democratic accountability is key to a new beginning for policing and to involving the community as a whole in the delivery of policing. We recommend that an entirely new Policing Board be created …’ This book is about the delivery of that ‘new beginning for policing’ in Northern Ireland, achieved at a time when most commentators considered the Policing Board was itself likely to fragment along traditional community lines.
The story of the Policing Board, from its establishment in 2001 through to the reconstitution of the membership in 2009 is in many ways an inspirational one, showing what can be done by politicians and community representatives working together to bring about a fundamentally different way of policing that better meets the needs of the whole community.
It offers valuable lessons and contemporary insights for law enforcement officers, accountability ‘bodies’ and academics world-wide, in key areas, including the need for a police service’s composition to reflect the community that it serves; promoting public confidence in policing and policing with the community; upholding human rights in the context of policing civil unrest and terrorism; holding a police service to account while providing the support it requires; and dealing with the legacy of inter-communal violence with over 3,500 deaths.
Drawing largely on publicly available material, it is an account by two individuals uniquely well-placed to produce an authoritative record: Professor Sir Desmond Rea, the Policing Board’s Chairman for its first seven and a half years, and Robin Masefield, the senior civil servant who headed the British Government’s team implementing the recommendations of the Independent Commission.