HC Deb 01 May 1996 vol 276 cc556-7W
Mr. Maginnis

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he intends to publish the White Paper on policing structures. [27629]

Sir Patrick Mayhew

Following wide consultation, I have today published a White Paper setting out proposals for the reform of the tripartite structure for policing governance in Northern Ireland.

The proposals seek to build on the consensus which has been shown to exist for a police service which upholds and is seen to uphold the law fairly with rigorous impartiality, efficiency and effectiveness, which: is accountable both to the law, and through a strong and independent Police Authority, to the community; and is responsive to the community,

accordingly commanding widespread confidence and support.

To this end, the proposals would: enhance and render transparent the accountability of the police to the community through the Police Authority; safeguard the operational independence of the police, so ensuring that the law is enforced impartially without partisan political interference; enable the community, through the Police Authority, to engage meaningfully in shaping the future direction of policing through the provision of statutory objective setting and police planning processes; and achieve greater efficiency in the use of resources devoted to policing by removal of bureaucracy and duplication of effort.

The White paper offers proposals for the basis of future legislation. Such legislation would, however, be informed by the forthcoming discussions on policing in the all-party political talks that are due to take place on an open agenda, and it would be shaped to reflect any agreements which emerge.