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RUC / SAPS Exchange

Initial contact between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the IPT was made in 1998 at the 4th International Conference on Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution held in Belfast. IPT staff ran a plenary on policing in South Africa and during discussion it was clearly demonstrated that there was commonality between the challenges faced by the two police services.

In October 1999, the IPT hosted three senior police officers from the RUC on a exploratory visit to South Africa and, more specifically KwaZulu-Natal. This visit provided the opportunity for meetings between the RUC delegation and key national and provincial individuals from the South African Police Service, involved in the change process in South Africa. These meetings were at a very senior level and reinforced the fact that both forces are engaged in a similar journey, and that whilst there are many differences in the nature and scale of the challenges, there appear to be many advantages to a collaborative process.

Coincidentally, the visit coincided with the publication of the Patten report and reinforced several key findings in that report with regard to co operation with other police services.

"We recommend that international training exchanges be further developed, focussing in particular on matters where the police in Northern Ireland need overseas police co operation and on best practice developments in policing worldwide. We also recommend co operation with other police services in the field of research" Recommendation 11 "A new beginning : Policing in Northern Ireland" 18.18 pg 104


"Awareness of human rights issues and respect for human rights in the performance of duty should be an important element in the appraisal of individuals in the police service" Recommendaton 22 "A new beginning : Policing in Northern Ireland" Chapter 20 - 5 pg 107

It would be simplistic to assume that because there are similarities, a simple exchange of methodologies would make a difference. The environments in the two countries are more complex than that, though the overarching commonality is the immediacy of the challenge to reflect changes in external environments by transforming into transparently accountable services. Ones which are characterised by a community policing style of service delivery, with a composition which is reflective of the population as a whole and in which Human Rights are the cornerstone of policing.

One purpose of the exchange is to tease out how these transformations can best be achieved and the process has continued with a visit by key members of the RUC's Change Management Team to South Africa in January for "engagement" sessions with South African Change Management. These sessions provided firsthand insight for the RUC team into the challenges and pitfalls which the SAPS team faced and will assist them to define and shape their own process.

The exchange continues with a visit to Belfast in March by key individuals involved in the South African Police change management process. This will again provide an opportunity for dialogue and interface around critical elements of change and we will continue to update our readers as this project progresses.

------> For further information about work around change management practices please contact us

For further information about the Royal Ulster Constabulary try their web site at RUC - www.ruc.police.uk

The South African Police can also be found through Servamus - www.servamus.co.za

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