§ Lord Eames
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they have expressed or intend to express a view to the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland on the future of the full-time reserve of the Police Service; and if so, what was the nature of that advice. [HL4056]
§ Baroness Amos
The Government accepted, subject to the security situation, the recommendation in the Patten report that "the future police service should not include a Full Time Reserve".
Following a review by the Chief Constable, he announced his decision on the future of the full-time reserve on 9 September, at a special meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board. 680 officers of the current establishment of 1,487 will be retained on a three year contract from 1 April 2005. The remaining officers will be released in a phased manner across an 18-month period. The Chief Constable made entirely clear that his decision was taken on operational grounds. The Government fully support the decision.
The Government recognise the major contribution that members of the reserve have made to the maintenance of law and order in Northern Ireland and the high price that they and many of their families have had to pay in doing so.
The Government have agreed that officers who leave the reserve will be entitled to a generous severance package that will provide substantial financial benefits and access to extensive retraining opportunities. The provision of an extensive period of paid retraining will enable all officers to explore new opportunities more fully.