Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's police Reserve now history

As of midnight tonight, after 40 years of service, the police Reserve will no longer be in existence.

The process of phasing out full-time and part-time reserves has been in operation since 2009, after the Patten Report called for change within the police service.

At the height of the Troubles there were more than 3,000 police reserves. This was reduced to just over 400 two years ago.

Former Police Federation chairman and DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt said it was sad to see the end of the Reserve. He said: "The full-time reserves have made an amazing contribution to the police service over the years. Given their service, I would have asked for their retention.

"The full-time officers should be proud of their contributions they have made to the police service.

"Also the part-time reserves made a tremendous contribution over the years."

SDLP Policing Board member Conall McDevitt said it was right to put an end to the Reserve.

"This is another step along the road of the full implementation of the Patten Report and further evidence of normalisation and a creation of a new police service which is representative of all of our communities."

But the current chairman of the Police Federation Terry Spence said he believes the end of the police body is premature and has called for recruitment schemes to be put in place immediately.

Mr Spence said: "At a time of increased threat from terrorists and the volatility of public order and the fact the parades issue has not been resolved, I believe the demise of the police Reserve is premature. In the past 10 years, police numbers have been reduced from 12,500 officers to 7,000 officers.

"Resources are stretched, we are very concerned.

"I have raised my concern with the Northern Ireland Office, the Justice Minister David Ford and the Secretary of State Owen Paterson. Instead of reducing numbers they should be recruiting to meet the threat we are faced with every day. We want a decision to start recruitment to be made. Between now and 2015, 1,200 current officers can maximise their benefits under the pension scheme.

"If they leave, we are down to 5,800 officers. How will we be able to cope?

"This is a worrying situation, it is acutely premature. In the past there have been 49 officers murdered in Northern Ireland. The threat from mafia-type activities conducted by the UVF and dissident republicans continues.

"It is sad to lose these officers who were able to perform and deliver the police service required."

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: "It is indeed recognised that the full-time Reserve has served the people of Northern Ireland with a high standard of professionalism, dedication and commitment."

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