Communities in the North want the rule of law and safer neighbourhoods. That's why the SDLP has been working for accountability and change on the Policing Board, District Policing Partnerships and Community Safety Partnerships.
And we are delivering the Patten Report on policing. Our achievements include:
Collusion exposed, because the SDLP insisted that the Office of the Police Ombudsman have the power to investigate the past;
Special Branch dismantled, its systems, standards and procedures;
Progress to a more representative service with Catholic levels in the regular police currently around one quarter, women accounting for over one third of appointees and unprecedented numbers from minority ethnic communities applying to join.
But our work is not done. In delivering better policing the SDLP will continue to get police officers out from behind their desks and onto the streets. The closure of police stations that don't contribute to policing will help. Through the Policing Board, we'll continue to work for a routinely unarmed police service with emergency support units.
The party strongly opposed the introduction of TASER, and will continue to campaign to ensure that only the highest standards of human rights and equality are touchstones of the police service in the North..
The SDLP supported the devolution of the justice portfolio, however we disagree with the sectarian carve-up through which the ministry was appointed, which denied the SDLP a second seat at the Executive table, which we were entitled to under D'Hondt.
Through our seat on the Policing Board, the SDLP continue to champion accountability and transparency in policing, and believe that this should be extended to the introduction of a National Crime Agency, rather than the alternative which was presented by the Unionist parties, which would make the NCA accountable to the Secretary of State. The SDLP passionately believe that the huge progress we have seen in policing is owed to enhanced accountability through the Policing Board and Patten, and a failure to implement this in relation to the NCA would represent a backwards step. We must continue to ensure that the developments in policing are protected, and that policing in Northern Ireland remains accountable and transparent.