Under the terms of the agreement a Commission was formed to inquire into policing in Northern Ireland, to consult with all interested parties and organizations, and to make proposals for future policing structures and arrangements, including the proposed community police force and its composition, recruitment, training, culture, ethos and symbols. The aim was to create a police service that would be effective, operate in partnership with the community, cooperate with the Garda Siochana and other police forces, and be accountable both to the law and to the community which it serves.
The report, which included information on human rights, accountability, size of force, recruitment and training and other social and cultural elements, led to the publication of the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill in May 2000, and its subsequent implementation. Sinn Fein, which represents a quarter of Northern Ireland's voters, refused to endorse the new force until all recommendations within the Patten Report had been implemented in full. (McKenna, Patten Report Summary)
The philosophy of community policing programs which sprung from the agreement puts forth the notion that any effective policing in a diverse, democratic and peaceful society requires the full participation of all community members. In the case of the Belfast Agreements, participants in community policing efforts represent a broad spectrum of those communities, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, managers of local District Political Partnerships, and senior executives from several of the twenty-six District Councils. A prominent result of this action culminated in Westminster relinquishing law enforcement control to Ireland, although Britain set out the departmental model to which these powers would be transferred. Translated, authority over policing and justice now lay within Ireland and with the Irish people.
The report mentions Ireland's main policing authority, Garda S'och'na, as an integral player in the community policing solution. The following information is gleaned from the official Garda site (An Garda S'och'na):
Garda S'och'na (AGS) is Ireland's national police service. Today, it exercises all police functions in The Republic of Ireland. Officially translated as "Guard(ians) of the Peace of Ireland", it is often referred to as simply "The Guardians of the Peace." The Garda consists of commissioners, assistant commissioners, administrative officers, executives, superintendents. Six geographical Assistant Commissioners command six Garda Force Regions: Dublin Metropolitan, Eastern, Northern, Southern, South Eastern and Western regions of the country. The Garda S'och'na Act 2005 provided for the establishment of a Garda Reserve, consisting of 4,000 members to assist the force in supplementing its functions within communities.
Speaking specifically on its website about community policing, the Garda's role in the programme is described as "...a proactive, solution-based and community-driven form of policing... Community'policing'occurs where Garda and members of the community and