The future of policing in Northern Ireland is one of the most important factors involving everyone and Chief Constable Matt Baggott is to be congratulated for his efforts to bring true community policing to what has been for too long a troubled province.
Traditionally, there has been a misguided attitude that it is up to the police to keep the peace and to contribute to the healing of Northern Ireland as part of their professional duties.
This is a shortsighted view and the Chief Constable is right in drawing attention to the responsibilities of the politicians and the people they represent to maintain a law-abiding society.
There is no place for intransigence on any side and in our series this week, called PSNI — A New Face, we will reveal the background to this important new initiative on community policing.
This involves the commitment of officers on the beat who are trying to make local communities better places for everyone. This has been a success so far, and the initiative of the PSNI is commendable in the face of a continued dissident campaign — which led to the tragic deaths of Constable Stephen Carroll and members of the Army in cowardly |attacks on the forces of law and order.
There is much to be achieved but it would be a great step forward if the PSNI was no longer treated as a political football.
There are many divisive issues remaining and while it is important that the dark legacy of the past continues to exercise the Historical Enquiries Team and other investigative bodies, it would be wrong to allow an over-emphasis on these issues to prevent the police from moving into the future.
What is required all round is a sense of balance and an awareness that while the past should never be forgotten, it is the present and the future of Northern Ireland that are of primary importance.
Full cooperation with the PSNI on neighbourhood policing and other allied issues is still the best way forward.