More than half the current PSNI force at work across the North once wore the uniform of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, it has emerged.
The PSNI was born in 2001, under reforms by the Independent Commission for Policing in Northern Ireland (ICPNI), and was part of the Good Friday Agreement’s proposals for changing the face of policing in the North, which had previously been seen by many nationalists and republicans as an “armed wing” of unionism.
However, through information obtained by the Andersonstown News under the Freedom of Information Act, it has been revealed that as of last December, 4,331 former RUC members, including full and part time personnel, are now on the beat as members of the PSNI, the current strength of which stands at just over 8,000.
The details emerged as the redundancy scheme implemented by the policing reform commission under
Chairman Chris Patten to allow former RUC members to step down and make room for new Catholic recruits draws to a close. The scheme has attracted criticism as it was revealed the final bill may come in at over half a billion pounds.
According to Jim McCabe, whose wife Nora was killed by an RUC plastic bullen in July 1981, they appear “no different” in his eyes to their predecessors.
Last week, the North’s most senior judge has rejected a legal attempt to ban the PSNI from using potentially lethal taser stun guns.
Justice Declan Morgan dismissed an application to stop their introduction.
The challenge was brought by a Belfast girl whose grandmother was killed by a police plastic bullet in the 1980s.
Lawyers for the child, who was not identified, argued that a proper equality impact assessment was not carried out, and that use of tasers breached the “right to life and right to freedom from torture”.
Former PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde received Policing Board endorsement in 2008 to bring in the weapons.
The judge claimed that the applicant could not be classed as a victim under the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998 even though she held credible fears a similar fate might befall her mother.
But Morgan ruled: “There is no suggestion that the effects or operational guidance in relation to the use of these weapons is similar.
“Plastic bullets were designed to be used in situations of public disorder. The operational guidance in relation to tasers indicates that they should never be used in such circumstances.”
The court was told the child lives in an area of west Belfast where a notorious feud has been ongoing between two families.
The judge said: “There is no material before the court to indicate any circumstances in which this child was or might be in a situation which might lead to the deployment of a taser in her vicinity.
“I consider that on the facts of this case this applicant is in no different position to any other child in Northern Ireland.”