By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — The Northern Ireland Police Authority is claiming that its latest opinion poll shows confidence in the RUC is at an all-time high, but the authority also admits many Catholics lack trust in the force’s ability to provide fair and impartial policing.
The RUC will take comfort in that 75 percent of people believe it is doing a fairly or very good job. But of those polled, 38 percent believe reform is needed, 9 percent more than three years ago.
Only 44 percent believe the force should not be changed, compared with 54 percent in 1995 and 51 percent last year. Only 31 percent of Catholics don’t want change and focus group research shows working-class nationalists describe the RUC as ill-mannered, unprofessional, arrogant, disrespectful and untrustworthy.
Many people in both communities tended also to choose negative words to describe the RUC, such as bullies and biased. The police authority concludes there must be a new start that should be visible, significant and meaningful.
In a separate development, another damning report on the Maze jail was published in the North on Wednesday, concluding that low morale was placing a dangerous strain on the system. The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of the House of Commons also said it was unacceptable that a redundancy plan still hadn’t been agreed with prison officers.
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
The report says prison officers had a basic lack of pride in their work and a high rate of absenteeism caused by low morale. There is a widespread and deep-rooted lack of respect between management and staff, who were accused of "systematically avoiding" training programs aimed at improvement.