House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Police (Northern Ireland) Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Clause 40: Police Cadets

53.     Allows for police cadets to be appointed by the Board, with the approval of the Chief Constable.

Clauses 41 and 42: Recruitment Arrangements

54.     The Patten Report recommended that, while the Chief Constable should remain responsible and accountable for recruitment, the technical work of recruitment should be contracted out to an outside agency. Clauses 41 and 42 give effect to this recommendation by enabling the Chief Constable to appoint an agent to carry out the recruitment of police officers and police support staff in accordance with any regulations made by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State must consult the Chief Constable, the Board and the police staff associations on the regulations. Subsection (4) of Clause 41 makes it clear that the Chief Constable retains overall liability for the recruitment process.

55.     Detailed matters concerning the recruitment process will be set out in regulations made by the Secretary of State under Subsection (1) of clause 42. Subsection (2) of clause 42 sets out matters which must be covered in the regulations governing the recruitment process. This will include the involvement of lay representatives on recruitment panels and independent validation of decisions to reject candidates. Subsections (3), (4) and (5) require that the regulations provide for pools of qualified candidates for the police service and its support staff to be selected. Candidates for selection to the police service (at constable level) will be selected from pools for the purposes of appointment under clause 43(1) (see below). In respect of police support staff, only where there are 10 or more posts of a similar nature and level to be filled at about the same time will selection be from a pool for the purposes of appointment in accordance with clause 43(4) (see below).

Clauses 43 and 44: Temporary Provisions Concerning Composition of the Police force

56.     The Patten Report recommended exceptional recruitment measures to address imbalances in the perceived religious background of the membership of the police force. The Report said that candidates should reach a specified standard of merit and be selected from a qualified pool on the basis that one half would be Catholics. The Report recommended that police support staff be recruited in similar fashion and that Part Time Reserve members of the police force be recruited locally. In accepting the recommendation on recruitment to the police force the Secretary of State said (statement of 19 January 2000) that the provisions would be time bounded and reviewable triennially. Clauses 43 and 44 give effect to these measures.

57.     Clause 43 requires the Chief Constable to appoint from a pool of qualified candidates for the police service and its support staff (where there are 10 or more vacancies - clause 40(4) and (5)) an even number of candidates one half of whom are to be treated as Roman Catholic. Subsections (2) and (3) provide for the Secretary of State, after consulting the Board, to make an order modifying the 50:50 recruitment provisions for police service recruits where insufficient numbers of qualified candidates of one community background have come forward to fill one half of the vacancies. Subsections (5) and (6) apply existing fair employment monitoring procedures for the purpose of determining perceived community background. Subsections (7) and (8) amend fair employment and race relations legislation to except selection of qualified candidates from the pool of qualified candidates on the basis of perceived religious background. The amendment to fair employment legislation also excepts local recruitment of Part Time Reserve members of the police service reserve from being unlawful under the terms of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1999.

58.     Clause 44 provides that the exceptional measures concerning the composition of the police force and its support staff will expire on the third anniversary of their coming into force unless they are specifically renewed by the Secretary of State after consulting the Policing Board. Subsection (5) provides that the measures will be repealed after being in place for 10 years.

Clause 45: Severance Arrangements

59.     The Patten Report envisages a reduction in the overall size of the police service from 8400 officers to 7500. To achieve this reduction and to enable recruitment, approximately 4500 officers will leave the police service over a 10-year period. The Full Time Reserve (2700 officers) will be phased out. Clause 45 provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations to provide for the introduction of a time bounded voluntary early retirement and early severance scheme. It is intended that the scheme will apply to all members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve with 5 or more years' service in the Royal

Ulster Constabulary and will offer enhancements to existing pension arrangements and special compensatory lump sums. These provisions will not be subject to consultation with the Police Negotiation Board.

Clause 46: Service by Members of the Police Service Reserve with Other Services

60.     This clause makes an amendment to section 27 of the 1998 Act. That section deals with the terms and conditions of police officers while serving outside the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Hitherto the section only provided for regular members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to engage in such service. The amendment to section 27 allows reservists to participate in such service.

Clause 47: Registration of Associations

61.     This clause requires members of the police force to inform the Chief Constable of any "registrable association" when asked to do so. Certain registrable interests are listed in the Bill and these may be amended by the Secretary of State by order. The listed associations are those specifically mentioned by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in its report on the "Composition, Recruitment and Training of the RUC" (published in July 1998) which inquired into the question of registration of interests by police officers.

62.     The clause places safeguards on the handling and disclosure of registered information and makes it an offence to provide false information. The information will be made available, on request, to the Police Ombudsman and statistical information must be published by the Chief Constable in his annual report.

Clause 48: Code of Ethics

63.     This clause requires the Chief Constable to consult upon, issue and publish a code of ethics for members of the police force on standards of conduct and practice for police officers. In carrying out their general duties under clause 30 members of the police force are obliged to have regard to a code.

Clause 49: Guidance on Public Order Equipment

64.     This clause allows the Secretary of State, after consultation, to issue guidance to members of the police force on the use of public order equipment. The clause is, in particular, intended to allow the Secretary of State to issue guidance on the use of plastic baton rounds. Any guidance issued is to be published.

Clause 50: Regulation as to Emblems and Flags

65.     Clause 50 enables the Secretary of State to make regulations governing the design and use of emblems and flags for policing. Before issuing such regulations he must consult the Board, the Chief Constable and the Police Association.

Clause 51: Identification of Members of the Police Force

66.     Clause 51 requires the Chief Constable to make arrangements for police officers to have a unique identification number which should be clearly visible while they are in uniform.

Clause 52: Co-operation with the Garda Siochana

67.     Clause 52 requires the Board and the Chief Constable to put into place any arrangements for cross border co-operation with the Garda Siochana which are agreed between the British and Irish Governments.


Clause 53: Annual and Other Reports by Board to Secretary of State

68.     Clause 53 replaces section 47 of the 1998 Act and requires the Board to issue an annual report and report to the Secretary of State as required. Subsection (2) requires the Board's annual report to include an assessment of its general functions under clause 2.

Clause 54: Annual Report by Chief Constable to the Board

69.     Clause 54 replaces section 48 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 and requires the Chief Constable to publish an annual report.

Clause 55: General Duty of Chief Constable to Report to the Board

70.     Clause 55 requires the Chief Constable to submit a report on any policing matter at the request of the Board. The clause replaces section 48 of the 1998 Act. Under Schedule 1, paragraph 17(6) and (7), the Board must determine, publish and comply with procedures for exercising its powers under clause 55(1) to call for reports. The Chief Constable can refer to the Secretary of State requests of the Board dealing with national security, sensitive personal matters, ongoing court cases or investigations or matters which would prejudice the detection of crime or the administration of justice. In these cases the Secretary of State is required to determine whether the Chief Constable should provide a report to the Board.

Clause 56: Inquiry by Board Following Report by Chief Constable

71.     This clause introduces a new power recommended by the Patten report for the Board to order an inquiry into any matter upon which it has received a report if it considers the matter, or any related matter in the Report, is grave or there are exceptional circumstances. A decision to hold an inquiry requires the support of 12 members (as does the appointment of an inquirer) - Schedule 1 para 17(4). Only the Secretary of State had power to order an inquiry under the 1998 Act. The Board must inform the Chief Constable and the Secretary of State if it intends to hold an inquiry and the Chief Constable can refer the matter to the Secretary of State on the same grounds as under clause 55 (reports). The Secretary of State can prevent or halt an inquiry if it appears to him that, on the relevant grounds, it should not be held or if it appears to him that the holding or continuation of an inquiry would not be in the interests of the efficiency or effectiveness of the police service. The Board can ask specified statutory agencies to carry out an inquiry or any other person, subject to the Secretary of State's approval. The Board cannot hold inquiries into matters that occurred before its establishment and it must meet the costs of any inquiry.

Clause 57: Reports by Chief Constable to Secretary of State

72.     Clause 57 replaces section 49 of the 1998 Act. It provides for the Chief Constable to make reports to the Secretary of State.


73.     Clauses 58-60 add provisions to Part VII of the 1998 Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998 (Police Complaints and Disciplinary Proceedings).

Clause 58: Reports by Ombudsman to Chief Constable and Board

74.     This clause enables the Ombudsman to make reports to the Chief Constable and the Policing Board on matters concerning police practices and policies which the Ombudsman identifies from investigations.

Clause 59: Supply of Information

75.     This amendment to the 1998 Act requires the Ombudsman to compile and supply statistical and other general information to the Policing Board to enable it to carry out its duty of keeping itself informed about trends and patterns in complaints (under clause 2).

Clause 60: Time Limit for Complaints and References to Ombudsman

76.     This clause inserts an additional regulation making power in section 64 of the 1998 Act which will enable the Secretary of State to set time limits for the investigation of complaint and non-complaint cases by the Ombudsman. The regulations will permit the Ombudsman to investigate cases where the police conduct in question occurred 24 months, or less, before the creation of his office. In certain specified circumstances, the Ombudsman will also be able to investigate cases before this time.

Clause 61: Access to Information

77.     This clause provides for access by the Ombudsman to information and documents where these are reasonably required for the Ombudsman's exercise of his functions. It would cover, for example, access to registered information under clause47.


78.     Part VIII deals with technical provisions and definitions. It also covers a number of miscellaneous provisions. Noteworthy provisions are described below.

Clause 63: The Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Foundation

79.     This clause enables the Secretary of State to establish by regulations, and make payments to, a foundation to mark the sacrifices and honour the achievements of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Clause 65: Video Recording of Interviews

80.     Clause 65 amends the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 to require the Secretary of State to issue a code on the video recording of police interviews with people being questioned other than under anti-terrorism legislation. The Terrorism Bill deals with the video recording of those being questioned about terrorist crimes.

Clause 66: Application to Police of Anti-discrimination Legislation

81.     This clause, together with Schedule 4 to the Bill, replaces existing provisions which apply anti-discrimination legislation to police bodies. The main change is to provide for the vicarious liability of chief officers of police for acts of their officers in the provision of goods, facilities or services. The changes, in part, reflect those being made in the Race Relations (Amendment) Bill and arise from a recommendation of the report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Clause 69: Interpretation

82.     Subsection (1) of clause 69 provides for the interpretation of terms used in the Bill. Subsection (2) explains that "police force" includes the police service and the police service reserve. Paragraph 2 of Schedule 6 provides that the constables comprising the Royal Ulster Constabulary and its Reserve continue in being as the "police service" and its reserve. Subsections (3) and (4) enable the Secretary of State, by order, to make provision about a name for the police service and its reserve. Before doing so the Secretary of State must consult the Board and have regard to the need to secure that the police force is representative of the community in Northern Ireland. Subsection (5) specifies that, until the coming into force of an order about the name of the police service and its reserve, they shall be known as the "Police Service" and the "Police Service Reserve". The Secretary of State announced on 19 January that a new name would be introduced in the Autumn of 2001. Until this time the name Royal Ulster Constabulary and RUC Reserve will apply by virtue of paragraph1 of Schedule 6.


83.     This Schedule sets out how the Board is to be established and outlines the arrangements for its proceedings.

Part I: Status and Membership

84.     The Schedule contains different provisions depending on devolution or direct rule. Paragraph 2 explains that Part II of this schedule applies during direct rule and that it will cease to have effect and that Part III will be applied during devolved government. After a change from direct rule to devolved government or vice versa, members of the Board cease to hold office, but may be appointed again.

Part II: Membership During Suspension of Devolved Government

85.     Paragraph 3 sets out the arrangements for appointment to the Board by the Secretary of State during direct rule. Under sub-paragraph 1 there will be a maximum of 19 members and sub-paragraph (3) requires the Secretary of State to ensure, as far as practicable, that membership of the Board is representative of the community in Northern Ireland.

86.     Before making any appointment the Secretary of State must consult district councils and any other body he considers appropriate. There is no requirement for consultation where the Secretary of State is making the first appointments to the Board after the Assembly is suspended when devolution had been restored. The effect of this provision would be to allow swifter appointment of 10 independent members to replace the 10 members appointed from the Assembly.

87.     Sub-paragraph (7) outlines grounds for disqualification. Sub-paragraphs (8)-(10) specify that there shall be a chairman and vice chairman initially appointed by the Secretary of State, but, thereafter, appointed by the Board from among its members. The quorum for a meeting making such an appointment is 12 (paragraph 17(2)).

Part III: Membership During Devolved Government

88.     Paragraph 6 provides that during devolved government the Board will have 19 members, 10 of whom will be appointed from the Assembly and the other 9 appointed by the Secretary of State.

89.     Sub-paragraph (2) sets out that the 10 members nominated from the Assembly will be known as "political members" and that the 9 members appointed by Secretary of State will be known as 'independent members'.

90.     Paragraph 7 outlines the process (d'Hondt) for selecting the 10 political members of the Board. The provisions are based on those in the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

91.     Paragraph 8 provides for the appointment of independent members after consultation with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, councils and such other bodies as the Secretary of State considers appropriate. The consultation provision does not apply where the Board is first appointed after the restoration of devolution. The effect of this provision is to allow swifter appointment of independents to the Board. The Secretary of State must exercise his powers of appointment to secure, as far as practicable, that the Board is representative of the community in Northern Ireland.

92.     Paragraphs 9-10 cover the grounds for removal of Board members from office and disqualification from membership. Grounds for removal include conviction of a criminal offence, not being committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means and being unfit.

93.     Paragraph 11 specifies that there shall be a chairman and vice chairman, initially appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with First Minister and Deputy First Minister, but, thereafter, appointed by the Board from among its members. The quorum for a meeting making such an appointment is 12 (paragraph17(2)).

Parts IV-VI: Staff, Funding Procedure

94.     Deal with the Board's staffing, require the Secretary of State to make a grant to the Board to cover its expenses and set out procedural provisions.


95.     This Schedule provides for the Policing Board to exercise the functions, hold the property, have the rights and liabilities and employ the staff, which were the responsibility of the Police Authority for Northern Ireland, upon the dissolution of the Police Authority. Paragraph 4 transfers the employment of directly employed staff of the Police Authority to the Board. This applies to staff working directly to the Police Authority and to "police service staff" who are under the direction and control of the Chief Constable. The latter group will remain under the direction and control of the Chief Constable. Paragraph 5 transfers the secondment of civil servants from the Police Authority to the Policing Board. Those civil servants seconded to the Police Authority who are under the direction and control of the Chief Constable will continue in that capacity. Secondees working for the Authority will work for the Board upon transfer.


96.     This Schedule sets out how a district policing partnership is to be established and the arrangements for its proceedings.

97.     Paragraph 2 details the size and composition of a district policing partnership (15, 17 or 19 members). It also provides that, in all cases, the number of political (council) members shall be one more than the number of independent members.

98.     Paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 set out the arrangements for political and independent members to be appointed, when they will cease to hold office, appointments to fill casual vacancies and eligibility for re-appointment. The district council is obliged to ensure that the political membership of a partnership reflects the balance of parties prevailing among the members of the council immediately after the last local general election.

99.     Paragraph 5 requires the district council to nominate independent members for appointment by the Policing Board.

100.     Paragraph 6 enables the Secretary of State, after consultation with the Policing Board and district councils, to issue a code of practice to the council and Board on the appointment of independent members to the district policing partnership. This code will set out best practice to be followed in the appointment process.

101.     Paragraph 7 sets out the circumstances in which members of the district policing partnership can be removed by the Board, or the council with the approval of the Board, and paragraph 8 sets out the circumstances in which persons are disqualified for membership of the district policing partnership. These include conviction for a scheduled offence or conviction for any offence leading to a term of imprisonment (whether suspended or not).

102.     Paragraph 9 provides for the appointment of a chairman and vice-chairman of a district policing partnership from the political members. As recommended by the Patten report, the positions must, so far as practicable, be held by members of different political parties and the office of chairman is to be held in turn by each of the four largest parties on the council.

103.     Paragraph 11 requires the Policing Board to make a grant to the district council amounting to three-quarters of the reasonable costs of establishing, and carrying out the functions of a district policing partnership. The remaining quarter of the cost will be paid by the district council.

104.     Paragraph 16 enables the Secretary of State, after consultation with the Policing Board and the councils affected, to provide by order that two or more councils can establish a joint district policing partnership for their districts.


105.     This Schedule makes amendments to sex discrimination, race relations and fair employment and treatment legislation in its application to police bodies (see clause 66).


106.     This Schedule lists amendments to existing legislation.


107.     Paragraph 1 of Schedule 6 provides for references in the Bill to "the police service" and "police service reserve" to be construed in accordance with current legislation as references to the Royal Ulster Constabulary and its Reserve respectively until the new terms are brought into effect (by the coming into operation of clause70(2)).

108.     Paragraph 2 of the Schedule makes clear that the body of constables forming the Royal Ulster Constabulary and its Reserve continue in being as the "police service" and the "police service reserve" respectively.


109.     This Schedule makes repeals, including to the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. Parts of that Act will remain and, together with the Bill, form the "police acts".


110.     The Bill will entail significant additional expenditure on policing in Northern Ireland over the medium term - to achieve downsizing and compositional change through funding police severance arrangements - currently estimated at £200m over 5 years. In the longer term there should be a decrease in overall police expenditure as the police Full Time Reserve, 2700 officers, is phased out and the number of regular officers reduces from 8400 at present to 7500. These savings need to be set against the costs of an enlarged Part Time Reserve of up to 2500 officers (the current figure is 1200).

111.     There will be significant start up costs for the new Policing Board - but the Board's running costs should be comparable to, and can be transferred from, the Police Authority, which is to be disbanded. In addition, there will be running costs for the new district policing partnerships and for new police recruitment agency arrangements. There will also be costs associated with the introduction of a new name and badge for the police force. The total estimated cost of implementing the Patten report's non-severance recommendations is £178m over 5 years.


112.     The Bill will have no regulatory impact.


113.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement, before second reading, about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined in section 1 of that Act). The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Mandelson has made the following statement:

"In my view the provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill are compatible with the Convention rights".


114.     Clause 71 provides for clause 45 (severance arrangements), clause 67 (expenses), clause 68 (orders and regulations), subsections (1) to (4) and (6) of clause 69 (interpretation), paragraph 1 of Schedule 6 (transitional and transitory provisions) and, insofar as it relates to paragraph 1 of Schedule 6, clause 70(3) to come into force on Royal Assent. The other provisions will come into force on such dates as the Secretary of State appoints by order.

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Prepared: 16 May 2000