REFORMING THE RUC: Keeping the Peace?

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Founded in 1922, the RUC has 8,500 regular officers, 4,300 reservists and 2,700 civilian staff; membership is 92 per cent Protestant.

300 members have been killed and 8,000 injured in the Troubles.

Since 1969, the RUC has investigated 3,295 deaths attributed to the security situation; 70 officers have taken their lives due to apparent stress-related causes.

In February 1985 nine officers were killed in a mortar bomb attack on Newry police station.

Killings have fallen since the Newry bombing, but the only full year without any RUC officers being killed was 1996.

A massive judicial workload has been generated by the RUC, with 18,140 people being charged. More than 1,000 people a year were charged from 1973 to 1977.

In charge of the RUC is Sir Ronnie Flanagan, aided by a deputy and eight assistants.

The total budget for the force in 1999-2000 is pounds 657m.

The RUC operates under the auspices of the Independent Police Authority for Northern Ireland, which acts as a link between the force and the community.

Policing reform is seen as a vital part of the peace process.

The Patten report is believed to recommend:

A new name;

A reduction to 8,000 or fewer members;

Measures to increase Catholic members;

A new Police Board with politicians making up about half its membership;

Far-reaching structural changes;

Closer links with the Garda in the Irish Republic;

Generous payments to encourage early retirements;

An international figure to monitor change.