When you assumed command of the PSNI you found a
desperate shortage of detectives. If that shortfall
has since been made up has it not subsequently been
compromised by extending the remit of the Serious
Crime Review Team to investigate old killings? Many
who support the police would argue that investigative
energy should go into tracing the killers of, for
example, Danny McColgan, Joe O'Connor, Danny McGurk
and John Allen. Given that there is little chance
of prosecution, is there not a political motive
governing the expansion of the Serious Crime Review
Team, i.e. reminding Sinn Fein that if the party
presses on with its demand for inquiries it might
uncover a few buried skeletons along the way?
Orde: That's a complicated question. A number
of things. There was a substantial shortage of detectives.
In my judgement we needed about 200 more than we
had two years ago. A lot of that is a function of
Patten which is well rehearsed. People left and
there wasn't a real strategy about replacing them.
We advertised and selected about 180 officers who
started the process that makes them detectives.
You dont make detectives overnight. But now
those officers have two years service and have moved
around the place, into both districts and major
investigation teams. Crime Review is one part of
Major Investigations Crime Operations Group. It
is looking backwards. The first task of that group
is to look at cases that are 28 days old, not 28
years old. The more recent cases are the primary
work of the Serious Crime Review Team, and then
they turn to other cases.
is a debate where I am saying, in terms of history
I want to look at every case. Now, no one has ever
tried that before. This is big business. We need
additional resources. So it has not compromised
current investigations. In fact we are more fit
for purpose now than we ever were in history in
terms of dealing with serious crime as it happens.
And our clear up rates for murder are up actually.
So that is looking OK.
terms of the latter part of your question
political motive I dont do politics
on that. I ran major crime investigations in South
London and I know that the Serious Crime Review
team is an essential part of investigating current
crime as well as old crime. So what we are doing
is no different to anyone else. If that is politics,
so be it. In terms of fall-out while doing that,
it is a matter for others. It is not my business.
I will do it because it is what police do. The point
you make is a good point. There may be all sorts
of people across the divide who have moved on in
their worlds and who may come under some sort of
focus if I look at cases from 10, 20, 30 years ago.
Now, whether that means it gets to evidential standards,
it is a big mental leap.
Your experience of the Finucane case can leave you
little room for confidence in relation to unsolved
cases. You also favour some form of international
commission. But how could a body working towards
truth and reconciliation here produce anything of
substance? What confidence would the unionist community
have in it if, for example, Sinn Fein leaders were
to maintain their 'truth' that they were never members
of the IRA? Given nationalist experience of state
foot-dragging and stonewalling, typified recently
in the restricted nature of the Finucane inquiry,
what confidence could it possibly have in the ability
of a TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] to
elicit truth from state personnel? Would
a TRC not just be an exercise in one-upmanship,
a stick with which to beat opponents over the head,
and in which truths unpalatable to the 'other side'
are all that is being sought? Surely that is the
sort of truth that polarises rather than reconciles?
Is the whole Truth and Reconciliation discourse
not merely a dance of deceit?
Orde: We solved Finucane from a police perspective.
Or we solved part of Finucane; someone was charged
and sentenced to 22 years which is a fairly substantial
sentence regardless of what happens post-event which
is obviously not within my power. From a police
perspective it was a huge effort. Could we create
that 2000 times? No, of course we cant. I
can do my bit and I will review all the cases. I
do make an observation that there are other ways
of dealing with history. I dont think there
is necessarily a right or wrong in that. I dont
think it is my business to do anything other than
raise the issue. I can only do part of this. And
the point you make, yes, that is one interpretation
of it. But other people must look at that. The point
I make about an international commission is that
there needs to be some sort of activity around it to
come up with whatever they think may work here.
I dont think my officers reviewing cases with
a view to disclosing to families as much as we can
which is different that is not the
whole picture. Others need to engage. Dont
just leave history to policing because we cant
fix it. Whether it is a dance of deceit or not
thats a good line everyone will have
their own view on this. Everyone has their own view
on this. We do something or we do nothing as a community.
Now, if we continue to do nothing, Im not
sure that that moves us on. It is difficult territory.
In the case of Finucane, the family wants to know
who gave orders. So how does the PSNI fit into chasing
it beyond the trigger man conviction?
Orde: Thats a good question. We can only
pursue whatever we can to evidential standard. To
get a conviction in Northern Ireland you need a
very solid case. We do the work and we then form
a view whether or not we can take it to court. In
the case of Finucane we took to court what we thought
the director could prosecute. The director chooses.
Thats what we do. That is all we can do. I
cannot fix the rest of it. There are all sorts of
models of how you could deal with history in different
ways, but again, you cant just pull something
off the shelf. Other people outside policing who
understand this business far better than I do need
to come together to look at what they can do.
Just hypothetically, if they have the evidence would
the PSNI be able to go after the people in government?
Orde: Yes. We can pursue whomever we want to
pursue. No one has got in my way in that sense.
You go where the evidence takes you. And if the
evidence takes us to difficult places we go into
difficult places. We do that all the time. No one
can tell us not what to do. It would be a high risk
strategy for someone to try and tell me what I cannot
In Saturday's Irish Times you stated the
ostensible objective of the Serious Crime Review
Team: i.e. 'we could communicate that which we do
know to families and friends of victims.' Is this
not something better fulfilled by investigative
journalism? The police after all have been players
in many of these matters.
Orde: 2000 murders; Im not sure it is
right to say players in 'many'. It is a bit of a
leap. I think a number of people play in this world.
One of the things I was determined to do when I
got here was to work out what we did have. So we
got this massive project of getting all these papers
from all these cases together in one place so we
would have a proper archive of what we had; all
the exhibits that are left. But lots of exhibits
have gone. The Forensic lab was blown up twice,
I think, once substantially. Papers have gone missing.
Now, there may or may not be something sinister
in that most of it not sinister. If I was
in London looking for cases thirty years ago I am
not optimistic that I would find the papers. But
what we are going to do is find out what we have
got, then we will review what is in them to see
if there are opportunities. And new opportunities
have emerged around forensics. Now, other people
play in that field and I am not saying that they
should not. But I may have stuff that I can communicate
to families because I own it. Now historically,
if you look at a lot of these cases, we have had
the sort of legal argument around we are not
telling you this, we are not telling you that because
we may compromise future investigations. Now
my plan - I think radical is the wrong word
is looking at these cases differently when we get
to a conclusion. And the hard facts will be that
some of these cases we can go no further with. Then
we look at what we can communicate to the families
because many families and individuals have told
me they dont want retribution. They are just
interested in what happened and I think we can help.
It may bring closure.
Do you not think investigative journalism is more
capable of doing it?
Orde: Investigative journalism can play in the
same world but I dont think they are more
capable because I dont think they know as
much as I do about some of these cases. It is as
simple as that.
In Spain, solid investigative journalism has served
many of the functions that would be expected from
a TRC. Because of it few people now doubt that the Socialist government
of Felipe Gonzalez was up to its neck in the murder
of Basque ETA opponents and civilians. But, here
you have adopted a heavy-handed approach to journalism.
People who have reported on matters the state has
found embarrassing have been on the receiving end
of search, confiscate and arrest operations, such
as Kathy Johnson and Liam Clarke. Your present interviewers
have had their home searched and material essential
to journalism confiscated. The Stevens team, which
you led for a time, is best remembered in the journalistic
world for having pursued Ed Moloney in a bid to
access his notes. Such an approach if persisted
with would stifle investigative journalism. These
matters would run contrary to your ostensible promotion
of freedom of information and serve to deprive society
of a powerful weapon in the pursuit of truth.
Orde: I dont want to comment on some of
those cases because they are still running. Ed Moloney
was interesting actually in that two judges out
of three thought we had a sound case. It is not
something we do lightly. You cant have it
both ways. If you are looking to pursue someone
for the murder of someone like Finucane and someone
you think has relative evidence who can arrest and
convict the person, then as an investigator you
go for it; nothing sinister in that. Same as national
security stuff which involves one of those cases.
It is a fine balance I guess. But I am not interested
in pursuing journalists. It is not my raison
The murder of Marty O'Hagan by loyalist drug dealers
robbed society of an investigative journalist. His
colleagues are less than impressed by the seriousness
of the PSNI investigation. It is believed that his
killers remain at large because some of them were
agents of RUC Special Branch. This is reinforced
by the failure of the PSNI to implement your stated
intention of getting loyalist killers for other
activity for which they can be convicted. Many journalists
believe O'Hagan's killers are immune from such provision.
Orde: It is hard to do the detail on these cases.
But a number of loyalists are in prison for other
things and some are currently awaiting trial for
very serious murders. We are getting there on that.
More work to do, dont get me wrong, but I
am confident that we will have some good news stories
in the next year. No one stays at large because
they are an agent, if they have committed a serious
crime. You will be aware of the Stevens recommendations
which I was heavily involved with. We have reviewed
all our informants. Informants are a necessary evil
in policing. Every service needs intelligence and
needs information. It is how you handle it and it
is what is acceptable in that role. And that is
difficult. Thats a difficult piece of territory.
That is why I completely reorganised Crime Operations
Group; it is why we centralised intelligence under
a uniformed chief superintendent; it is why all
my Crime Operations Groups activities are
under a career detective, a person with a history
in investigation of crime rather than building pictures.
Because if you have intelligence you do something
with it, you dont build pictures. There is
a danger of us becoming too clever. I am determined
to deal with those sorts of issues. If an informant
steps over the line all bets are off in my book.
And God help any one in my organisation who tries
to protect them.
The manner in which the Finucane inquiry is being
organised by the British government - an in-house
investigation to quote the current Secretary of
State - suggests to those most alienated from your
police force that the real issues are not going
to be dealt with. As Michael Finucane put it, collusion
between the state and loyalists went right to the
top. What do you say to those who feel that the
Finucane case cannot be satisfactorily concluded
outside of a context in which total disclosure is
forthcoming regarding the role of Brian Nelson and
the agent referred to as Stakeknife?
Orde: That is a slightly unfair question in
the sense that it is a matter for government. I
will make sure that the inquiry will get anything
I have in my possession. One of the strengths of
Finucane from our perspective is that we spent three
years collecting just about everything I think that
exists so it is available. The judge, or whatever the
structure is, will get whatever they want. The other
points are wider points outside policing. I will
give them whatever they want but it is for others
to decide whether it is public, private or a combination.
Collusion would appear to have been endemic within
all sections of the British security forces and
in particular RUC Special Branch. Not one RUC member
came forward to blow the whistle. Many of those
are now allegedly senior members of the PSNI. Furthermore,
Sinn Fein is hardly wrong in claiming that substantial
numbers of those involved in the 'activity of the
night' are still under your command. Is there not
a conflict of interest on your part in that as former
day to day manager of the Stevens team you in your
current role as chief constable have 'forbidden
knowledge' of certain people under your command
and such knowledge prohibits you from having a more
robustly frank relationship with the public?
Orde: If there is one thing I have had since
I have been here it is a fairly frank and robust
conversation with the public - unless the papers
are making it all up. I say it as I see it. I always
have. I said that when I came. I also said if anyone
got in my way I would walk out the door and they
havent, in fairness to both secretaries of
state. They do not interfere with me doing policing.
I think is a big step to say that collusion was
endemic with all sides. I dont think that
is the case. And that is a police perspective after
two and a half years of looking at it in a reasonable
amount of detail. Also, dont underestimate
the impact of Patten on the numbers. As a result
of Patten more special branch officers left than
any other part of the organisation. The world has
moved on. Those would no doubt be officers of all
abilities from the outstanding to those any organisation
would be happy to see the back of, because thats
the spectrum of people we have in this organisation.
The vast majority of cops I have had dealings with
since I have been here do not cause me concern.
If they did I would do something about it. I dont
agree there is a conflict of interests.
Despite the changes that Patten ushered in, there
are still major concerns about policing. There is
evidence of forensic malpractice in the case of
Noel Abernathy; also in the case of Martin Brogan
and Mark Carroll. All three were acquitted as a
result. Seamus Doherty remains in custody for no
apparent reason other than investigating officers
being able to cover their tracks. Four people were
acquitted in the Coalisland rocket launcher case.
The trial judge was scathing of PSNI practice. This
suggests that in the face of a very low key and
inept republican armed campaign the police are prepared
to use extralegal measures to, in terms used by
Brigadier Frank Kitson, 'dispose of unwanted members
of the public.' If the campaign was on a par with
that waged by the Provisional IRA, it seems that
such extralegal policing activities would be multiplied
many times. It creates the impression of little
real change having occurred within policing.
Orde: No it doesnt. In terms of the ombudsman
investigation into that, read it. I think it is
public. She found no malpractice. The notion that
we were trying to pressurise a scientist into falsifying
evidence is not right. And that is what the ombudsman
found it didnt happen. And that was
not just the ombudsman; that was independent scientific
experts brought in by the ombudsman from the United
Kingdom by the ombudsman to look at everything that
was done in that case. Didnt happen, so I
take issue with that. Some of the issues around
the rocket launcher are extremely complicated, loaded
ones around how disclosure is handled here compared
to other parts of the United Kingdom. Acquittal
was the outcome. We have had a review of all of
those. I dont think those cases give you the
right to say little has changed, loads have changed.
Regardless of how the police behave Sinn Fein is
clearly going to support the PSNI at a time most
advantageous to itself
Orde: Who have you been reading?
It may well do so while you are chief constable.
What do you regard as the main reason for the party's
procrastination? Gerry Kelly has argued that the
key issue remains the MI5 control of intelligence.
Even under a devolved policing and justice system
would such control be ceded? After all, the PSNI
is a British police force.
Orde: We are the Police Service of Northern
Ireland (laughs). Sinn Fein on policing I
think you're right. I think it is a question of
timing but you better ask them. Im sure you
have an outstanding relationship with them, I shall
have a quick chat with you about it! I think it
may happen while I am here. I am here for another
three years. I think you are right, I think that
could happen. In terms of democratic control of
policing it should happen. They have a substantial
24% of the vote, something like that. It does seem
logical that they would want to influence policing.
But it is a matter for them when they come on. Timing
why procrastinate? Ask them. I dont
know. I have said from the day I started they should
be on it. I have not changed my views since then.
In terms of MI5, I am unique in the United Kingdom.
As a matter of fact national security is controlled
elsewhere by MI5. Here it is controlled by me.
It is still the United Kingdom?
Orde: Oh, absolutely.
You need to ask government really rather than me;
Ill do whatever the law says. But it would
seem a bit strange I am not sure you devolve
responsibility for something that is a national
So we wouldnt see that happening?
MI5 control of intelligence being devolved to the
Orde: A matter for government, it is as simple
as that, it is not a matter for policing.
Gerry Adams met with John Stevens.
Orde: Did he?!
This was less about Stevens and more about preparing
the ground to meet you?
Orde: Im not sure the commissioner would
have that view. I will meet with anyone that has
an interest in making a positive contribution to
policing. I will stand by that. I have been in the
same room as him.
Would you compare Adams' inexorable inching towards
the PSNI as akin to Arthur Scargill advising his
miners to join the Yorkshire branch of the British
Orde: Im not sure there is a Yorkshire
branch of the British police.
It is a British branch of the British police.
Orde: (Laughs) I am not too sure of the point
you are trying to make here.
Im basically saying that for all the fighting,
what we still have is a British police force. It
is a tongue in cheek question you can pass
Some people feel excluded by the peace process.
Paddy Murray is being threatened and attacked incessantly
in Antrim by the Provisional IRA. Davy Adams has
being subject to a similar campaign in Lisburn waged
by the UDA. What grip do organisations like the
IRA and UDA have on their communities?
Orde: Still substantial. I think they are losing
it in places. And I think they are losing it in
places where we are proving we are capable of protecting
communities. Parts of West Belfast I am not
saying West Belfast is perfect if you look
at the issues around car crime in West Belfast,
for me that is a role model. Its around people
realising that we can protect them and as a result
are prepared to engage. They may want third parties.
They may want local priests to help out and all
that sort of stuff. But it shows to me that organisations
are losing their grip in some places. The difficulty
is that where fear is the key, it is very hard for
people to make that big step to come and give us
intelligence and evidence, if the consequences are
extreme violence. By devolving power to my districts,
and I have done, they know how to deal better with
communities than I do. And they are. And in places
they are making a big difference.
What would the IRA have to do in your view to demonstrate
that it is no longer a player? Are there alternatives
to disbandment? Indeed, following your recent pronouncements
that you could accept the idea of those "closely
associated" with paramilitaries keeping the
peace in "their communities" is there
not a possibility that the IRA will continue to
exist because it will control its own communities?
What then are the connotations for community policing?
Orde: What recent pronouncements are those then?
They were referred to in a letter in the Telegraph
Orde: What have I been saying? !
by David Vance. David Vance wrote a letter
into the Telegraph and quoted you: closely
associated and in their communities.
Orde: Im not sure where he got it from.
The bigger point is they have to go away; dead easy
they have to go away. The definition of what
going away is seems to be a moveable feast. Disbandment
is sort of what success looks like it seems to me.
They have to accept that there is no longer a need
for a standing army. So I am very clear on that.
I am not sure what he is referring to frankly.
After or around the time of the parades issue in
Ardoyne you made a comment [about relying on community
Orde: I know what it is. That is the hard truth
of the complexity of policing. In a way it is a
positive thing. It means whether they like it or
not those who have a grip on their communities are
engaging with us. So they know - the reality is
they realise we have value, otherwise they wouldnt
do it. The scary bit of that question is the suggestion
that they want to control people. I dont want
to control people, I want to protect them. And that
is exactly what community policing is all about.
in the transitional period and this is a
very complex territory to police it means
there are relationships with people which in other
worlds you would not want to have, then so be it.
Because if that is the way we protect people, that
is the way we protect people. I think what you do
by doing that is that over time you get people to
understand where we are coming from, and then they
can stand back from their role, is over time engage
with us with a more positive and open mind.
When you talk about community policing, what it
would mean in Balmoral vis a vis Ballymurphy is
completely different. As an American who would have
a different concept of community policing which
I think is more in line with the type of thing you
are suggesting to be implemented here, where the
community would rely on police. Then you have cops
on the beat, on foot, knowing the community, interacting,
a real healthy policing situation.
Orde: Im not sure I would take that as
the model of American policing I have seen. Thats
a lovely vision but the places in the states I have
been I have seen nothing like that. But anyway,
it is a minor point.
Such a lovely vision would be more in line than
what 'community policing' means to somebody living
in Ballymurphy, which is kneecapping, intimidation.
Orde: Thats true.
So when you say that you rely on community activists
in a time of contention, and then you want community
policing, it just raises the question how can that
be married? Because if you want to rely on the PSNI
to police those areas and serve those areas, yet
they are relying on the same people that are basically
keeping those areas under fear and under the thumb
how can you reconcile
Orde: You break the circle. That is a negative
interpretation of what we are doing. What we are
doing is we are getting into the communities and
convincing them we can protect them. As a result
you actually put on the side the paramilitaries
who protect through fear, for the want of a better
description. This is not a constructive way. We
are constructive, they are negative. As that transition
takes place I have never said we want to associate
with people who go round blowing peoples kneecaps
off. And I think it is fair to say that the people
we do deal with dont necessarily fit in that
sort of definition. I think they are people who
have already made the mental leap that by engaging
with us they have already moved away from that and
they are on that periphery of can I make the
next big step? I dont have that negative
view of community policing here. We are doing community
policing, they are not. They are committing crime
and if we can prove that we are going to arrest
them and lock them up. And we have done that. There
are a number of people who exactly fit that model
who are currently in custody because we have dealt
Would those mainly be on the loyalist side?
Orde: The last one that springs instantly to
mind is on the opposite side, actually - just arrested
last week. It is a matter of record that someone
is arrested and charged.
Under your predecessor, there was a marked reluctance
to employ 'frankness and bluntness', characteristics
ascribed to you by Kent University. When you sprang
straight out of the traps to publicly identify the
organisation you believed had shot and beaten Derry
man Danny McBrearty, there was anticipation that
you had broken with the fudge you inherited. Was
this consistent with a more rigorous application
by the state to the management of the peace process
- in order to squeeze the IRA the British government
began closing down the space for 'creative ambiguity?
Do you see your task being to close down republican
Orde: Wriggle room it is a great line,
wriggle room. No, it is not my task. My task is
to say it as I see it. And that is what I have done.
If something deserves to be attributed because I
think I am absolutely clear that Group A or Group
B did it, I will do it. It is not something I do
lightly. I do it when I think it is right. But no
one tells me when to do it, no one says do
it or dont do it. My call.
And I am happy for my district commanders to do
exactly the same.
Any future agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP
to form a new British administration at Stormont
will be subject to some form of report/assessment
from yourself in relation to ongoing IRA activity.
Will the demands of the peace process require that
you depart from your own stated practice and subsequently
fudge the matter? Would you stand on principle as
stated two years ago and resign before allowing
such a fudge to occur?
Orde: Are you trying to get rid of me, are you?!
Of course I would. The point is very clear. Police
do the police bit. And if you look at what we have
done in the last sort of two years, we stand on
our own record. Some things we have done would not
have pleased, I suspect, various people from various
persuasions in terms of politics north or south
of the border or Westminster. We have just got to
do what we do and let the other bits work around
us. And that is where I intend to stay and no one
has asked me to move from that.
Do you ever fear that if you overstep the mark here
you could walk the same plank as John Stalker?
Orde: I'm still here (laughs). That is my answer
to that. You have to have a vision for where you
want to go and you got to know how you are going
to get there. And that means if you have to deal
with difficult issues you deal with them. And we
have dealt with some difficult issues. Go back two
years and look at the things we dealt with. Stalker
is (a) a long time ago and (b) there are mixed views
on that particular inquiry and investigation.
At the recent appreciation for Jack Holland you
chose a reading from his book Hope Against History.
In that reading Holland effectively concluded that
the IRA had been defeated. What was the significance
of you choosing that reading?
Orde: It was the last page of the last chapter
if I remember rightly. It was actually around his
vision for the future. The point for me was, 'we
can move this on.' It was at a time when we were
looking at dealing with the history in our bit but
trying to generate other people's activity - bringing
other people into other ways of dealing with history.
He had already forseen that things were moving on.
He was a good guy.
He was. But did you agree with his assessment that
the IRA have being defeated?
Orde: Well, the word 'defeated' - has the IRA
moved on? They haven't attacked my people, they
haven't attacked soldiers. I am on record as saying
what I think they are still doing and I think they
need to move on from that. They have moved on -
it would be a brave chief who would say they have
We would be meeting with the Garda Commissioner
if they hadn't been defeated.
Have IRA weapons thus far decommissioned been put
beyond use in such a way that there are no circumstances
under which the organisation can access and activate
them for future usage? Can you indicate the quantities
Orde: No I can't. The whole principle of decommissioning
under de Chastelain is that we don't know. You do
genuinely need to speak to de Chastelain about that.
He is a man of very high integrity and I think he
sees the bigger picture. I think what is interesting
is the debate currently around decommissioning in
the future. The DUP are not going to live with anything
other [than], according to the papers, some very
visual display of decommissioning or a Steven Spielberg
- there was a quote in the press this week - production.
Well, they are not going to live with a photograph
of four men looking into a hole which they can't
see the bottom of.
Society is generally aware of the links between
Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA. Would you care
to comment on the links between the DUP and loyalist
militias, given that Harry Barnes MP intends to
enlighten us on this matter in the British House
of Commons later this week?
Orde: No, not really. It is going to be interesting
to see what Harry Barnes MP is going to say about
it, frankly. The IMC is interesting on this stuff
around the PUP. But that is, one could argue, fringe
loyalism, rather than mainstream loyalism. I think
in fairness to both those parties they are different;
they are different.
There is a considerable racist problem in the North.
Your force has not won the confidence of the ethnic
communities in a way that it has won the respect
of the Gay community. Barbara Muldoon of the Anti
Racist Network claims that police response times
and detection rate are wholly inadequate. There
is also some anecdotal evidence to suggest that
in at least one of your stations situated in the
mouth of a racist heartland there is a dearth of
forward thinking when it comes to tackling racism.
Racist sentiment is said to exist in the station
in addition to the response time to allegations
of racist activity being poor. Furthermore, I have
been in the company of black anti-racist activist
David Carlin when PSNI members harassed him for
no apparent reason other than his colour.
Orde: I don't know about individual cases; do
we take it serious? Yes, we do. In terms of the
level of the problem compared to other parts of
the United Kingdom very low, about one crime
a day. Now, that does not mean they are not important,
don't get me wrong. But it is not the level of any
other major city in the United Kingdom. Partly that
is because our minority population is very small
- about 1%, very important, but it is about 1%.
In terms of determination - well, two people were
arrested yesterday for an assault on the Portuguese
guy in Portadown. A number of people are in custody
as a result of racist offences so we do take it
seriously. So I refute that. There's more we can
do. I have been involved with some of the communities
personally. We have had conferences where not only
did we have just about every community group represented,
we also managed to get Stephen Lawrences family's
lawyer Khan over - the first time ever he has spoken
at a police conference. So, are we looking at doing
things differently? Yes, we are. Still more we can
do, no doubt about that.
Mela two months ago, it was staggering. 5000 people
in Botantic Gardens. You had Indian community, Black
community, Portuguese community, Filipinos and white.
And I would say 60-70% white. The notion that we
can't live together - 70% of that group were white
people. No press coverage at all, because it was
a good news event. You say that we are not committed.
I had my community teams there. I had borrowed two
Asian officers - I don't have any - from West Yorkshire
who came over and were patrolling in full uniform.
I had my domestic violence unit there - big issue
in the Asian community, domestic violence. I even
had my traffic people there. My commitment, I would
say, was higher than any other public sector organisation.
We even gave money to make it happen. That's how
committed we are. Do I have the odd ...? Of course
I have. But we are pretty committed.
The odd what?
Orde: Is there an odd racist? Of course there
Are there sanctions?
Orde: Of course there are. It is against the
Code of Ethics. But everybody was there all ages,
shapes and sizes. It was great.
The police have sent in riot squads to remove the
street traders in Belfast city centre. They also
aggressively policed an anti-war demonstration in
front of Belfast City Hall last year, at one point
using batons against school children. In the eyes
of many people this is over the top policing with
the PSNI targeting those least able to cause political
controversy. Yet a widespread black market exists
around diesel, cigarettes and counterfeit goods
which for the most part continues unabated and its
administrators indifferent to the law. In loyalist
communities the drugs trade flourishes pretty openly.
Is there a softly-softly approach being adopted
in communities run by armed militias and a more
aggressive approach for the city centre where those
targeted by the police lack sufficient political
muscle with which to evade police attention?
Orde: Hmm ... you don't do good news, do you?
In terms of street trading, we use TSG [Tactical
Support Group]. Riot squads are a big mental leap.
If you speak to the business people in those communities
and indeed, if you speak to the DPP in those communities
and those who represent those communities, it is
a very big issue for them. I have seen it operate.
I dispute the term 'heavy handed policing.' We use
TSG. 'Riot squads' is over emotional. In terms of
the anti war demonstration, I am not aware that
there have been any complaints, not around school
children and batons. I dispute that.
I am relaying it to you as a witness who was there
on the day.
Orde: If there is an issue around heavy handedness,
I would encourage that person to go and see the
ombudsman. We have the most accountable police service
in the United Kingdom. We have a totally independent
complaints system which stands on its own record
and I stand on supporting it. In terms of the black
market, you see, you don't do good news. We have
been extremely successful against that. Major operation,
cross border with the Guards recently. Just one
example, this weekend, £74,000 worth of illegal
goods seized; fireworks which blow people's hands
off - all this sort of stuff. Most of which feeds
paramilitarism. Yes, we are dealing with it. Lots
of people are in custody because we deal with it.
We seize more counterfeit goods than the other 42
police forces put together in the United Kingdom.
Drugs trade drugs seizures up 35% last year.
Some major players arrested last year are now in
custody, big operators. So I dispute all of that
really, not surprisingly. And the suggestion that
we are that organised that we can target one group
without targeting another gives us a credibility
we probably dont deserve.
People have a democratic right to be protected both
from the state and by the state. Yet it seems in
West Belfast's Lower Falls, many in the community
feel totally abandoned in the face of a tidal wave
of anti-social disorder. Reports convey a nightmare
situation reminiscent of life in a US jail - everybody
for themselves and the weakest get screwed. It is
unimaginable that that this would be allowed to
continue in Cultra. There must be a question of
economic status here - people from the wrong side
of the class tracks are not being offered the same
amount of state protection as others in a higher
Orde: Reading that, you know, you would think
that we were in some third world country where crime
is desperate. We have the fourth lowest crime rate
in the whole of the United Kingdom per thousand
population. Two Welsh forces and I think it is Cumbria
have a lower crime rate than us per thousand. If
you look at violent crime we are right in the middle
of forty plus forces, we are nowhere near the worst.
We have reduced burglary more than any other force
in the United Kingdom. We have reduced car crime.
And the biggest drop in car crime is in West Belfast.
If that is abandoning people, then so be it. So,
lets sort of get a balance here. If you talk
to people in Cultra they will scream that they are
not policed at all. Thats because you put
your cops where people need protecting most. So,
I disagree with that. In terms of economic status,
we cant be held responsible for varying levels
of economic wealth within Northern Ireland. My responsibility
is to protect all the people in Northern Ireland.
I am not a fan of protecting some ruling elite.
I am a fan of protecting those who need to be protected
whatever their class. Do we get it right? Not always.
Patten called for 50:50 recruiting along religious
lines. Would it not be more progressive to have
50:50 recruiting along gender lines? Or is this
society to be stuck in its sectarian rut for the
Orde: At the risk of giving you even more good
news, I have just written a piece recently which
may or may not get into Police Review on
what we have done. I am a supporter of 50:50 in
the context of how we do it here. One of the problems
- back to your diversity question it is Catholic/non-Catholic.
Minority groups fit in non-Catholic. But because
they are so small I have asked the question are
we actually discriminating against minority groups
that want to join us? And that is a piece of work
we need to look at. And if there is a problem we
need to address it. But we were under-represented
with female officers. The average in the UK is about
17%. We have set ourselves a target of over 26%
over the next number of years. We are currently
up to the national average. A third of new recruits
are women. That is higher than any other police
service. We are not stuck in a rut.
What protection is being provided for builders who
are subject to widespread intimidation and extortion
in loyalist areas? Builders report that because
they employ Catholics they pay up in every single
loyalist area in which they work in order to protect
their workforce. They face prosecution from the
police when they do pay up. Yet the extortionists
walk onto sites openly and lay down their terms.
In one case this activity goes on yards from a PSNI
station, incidentally the same station referred
to earlier in relation to the racist problem.
Orde: The racist problem I am not sure
there is. I need to look at that. That is your assertion.
We did a presentation on extortion for the police
board last year. And whenever we get a complainant,
we get a conviction. I have made a representation
to the judiciary saying that when people do stand
up and be counted it is really unhelpful if they
(extortionists) get two or three years imprisonment.
Because what you are talking about is potentially
destroying someones livelihood. They have
to move out because of the small world in which
we live. In a recent case we appealed the sentence
of an extortionist and the Lord Chief Justice increased
the sentence quite substantially and made the point
that the next extortionist that comes in front of
him is looking at ten years. There are a number
of people currently in the judicial process charged
with extortion. It will be interesting to see how
that develops. Are we committed to doing it? Yes,
we are. Are we committed to protect witnesses? Yes,
we will do everything we can. But we need a complainant.
It is one of those crimes, I think, as we get more
trust in our ability to protect people
we will get more complainants. Then you start to
dismantle the whole thing. We have done all sorts
of interesting work around extortion which has led
to convictions. And I am confident now that the
sentencing bit will mirror or complement the work
we are doing. This is a fixable problem. It is around
police, community and business working together.
Extortionists should not be seen as some acceptable
cost within the system.
On the question of police accountability it has
been suggested by some observers that few if any
have been questioned or arrested, never mind charged
in relation to any of the numerous incidents of
threats, attacks and intimidation directed against
DPP members across the province. Is this an indication
that the local police aren't very happy with having
DPPs in place and are only doing the bare minimum
required in investigative terms?
Orde: You are doing your negative stuff again,
arent you? No, it is not. Let me give you
an example. A number of substantial operations have
been run and arrests have been made in relation
to this. So I am a bit constrained about some of
it. When Strabane came under that real focus, I
went up there one night. No one knew I was going
including me until I decided I was watching
it on the telly at ten oclock. And I thought
I would go up there. I got there about half eleven
at night or a quarter to twelve. No one knew I was
coming until five minutes before I got there because
thats when we called them up to let them know
we were coming in. The first thing I found was a
superintendent in his office with a strategy and
a meeting. I found additional officers tasked with
going out doing random patrols, high visibility
patrols, road blocks. Some of these people live
out in the middle of nowhere. I went out to visit
a number of locations where these people lived.
I came across TSG, a riot squad. I found two or
three of those officers in the middle of nowhere.
Because they were protecting those people. We are
doing an awful lot. And we have arrested people.
Feel free to speak to any of my district commanders
of the 28 DPPs we have in place, I think
they are maturing into something that is pretty
useful. And I think they are pretty brave people
who have said they want to engage in policing. I
think it is a real positive where people are prepared
to take it and not only that, not give up. Very
few people have left DPPs which prove it doesnt
work. If those dissidents want to go on being really
big people going around targeting innocent people,
who want to engage in policing and influence policing
of their communities, then it is going to be an
issue. But it says more about dissident republicans
that it says about my people or the people who want
to stand up and engage.
There are also people being intimidated in unionist
Orde: Yes. Absolutely. Yes.
Bruce Anderson writing in the Belfast Telegraph
referred to the criminal subculture that has been
the outcome of the peace process and which could
take decades to eradicate. It doesn't really get
much worse, does it?
Orde: I give up. I give up. Thats it!
I just told you how much worse it could get.
Are you prepared to comment on who robbed Iceland
in Strabane, Macro in Belfast, the Gallaghers
Orde: We said Gallaghers is republican.
But I will not go any further, I need to know more
about it. As I said earlier, I dont really
attribute unless I am clear. It doesnt really
get much worse? Yes, it does get much worse. As
I said to Ian Paisley after the last policing board
when we were trying to convince him that the statistics
were real and that crime was down 10%, Ill
take you to other parts of the United Kingdom. Ill
show you what scare is. Two weeks ago there
was a headline, Police put flak jackets
on in Ballymena. In most cities in the
United Kingdom police officers wear anti-ballistic
and stab-proof armour twenty-four hours a day. We
dont do that here. If people want to really
believe this is an awful place we live in then I suggest
go look elsewhere, and then come back and see how
lucky we are. It doesnt mean it cant
get better. There is a lot to do. I am not negating
all the issues we need to face up to. An awful lot
of good work is going on. 14,000 less victims of
crime this year compared to last year seems to me
a good news story. In terms of the outcome of the
peace process, are the paramilitaries going to go
into nine to five office jobs? Unlikely. Many
dissident republicans in particular - have become
very used to a reasonably good lifestyle because
they can commit ordinary crime using terrorist tactics.
That is what we have to break. Because that makes
you quite an effective sort of criminal gang. But
they are badly disrupted. We are getting pretty
effective against them. I think at some stage communities
will turn against them. The notion that you can
continue to intimidate because you have the guns
I think will move on.
What about Iceland and Macro - any comment?
Orde: One sells frozen food and one sells things
No clarity on who no suspects?
Orde: (Shakes head in the negative).
Does the PSNI constitute the disbandment of the
Orde: On 4/11/2001, the name changed. It has
got a different name.
I would love to leave it at that it is a
great answer but
Orde: This is a very dynamic organisation and
a lot of people like to do us damage all the time.
But I have been around pretty much all of it now.
And there things you get frustrated about and you
want to change it more quickly. But if you look
at the amount of change we have undertaken, much
of which is to convince people we are capable of
moving in modern times, we are capable of using
modern investigative techniques. We have done it.
I cant see any other organisation in Northern
Ireland that has moved as quickly as we have in
terms of reorganising and restructuring. If you
look at recruiting, we now have over a thousand
officers who have only worked in the PSNI. Those
are front line officers because that is the only
place they can be with up to two years service.
They cant be anywhere else. That is not to
say PSNI good RUC Bad. That is a really stupid
thing to say. The point is, [like] any organisation
our size even the Met we have good
cops and bad cops.
Is Freddie Scappaticci the agent Stakeknife?
Orde: We never talk about who is and who is
not an informant.
Apart from intelligence reports what do you read?
Who or what are the intellectual influences in your
Orde: That is a great assumption that I read
intelligence reports! I do read intelligence reports.
In this world, by the time you read all the stuff
that hits my desk, general policing stuff and all
that, and the papers if you are not depressed
by all of that there is not much time to
read. Well, you have seen my top shelf. I read a
lot about this place Ireland north and south.
I think you can learn a lot from history. And I
also read Spike Milligan.
I see you also read Ed Moloney.
Orde: He is quite good. I like Ed Moloneys
How did you assess his book - The Secret History
of the IRA?
Orde: The problem I have, of course, is I come
from a very different world. I think it is quite
well written. I think some of the books that come
from here are terribly, badly written. I think it
is quite well written.
Do you think it is an accurate account of the peace
Orde: Currently, I was just reading last night
about where did Sinn Fein come into it 1917
and that sort of stuff, and trying to get my head
around how we got from there to where we are now.
And the links between Sinn Fein and the IRA, which
is an inextricable link. I do not profess in any
way to be an expert on Irish history. But I thought
it was one of the better reads. What else do I read?
I dont read - I dont read an awful lot
more than that sort of stuff I need help!
Bernadette McAliskey once said the degree to which
one is Irish is the degree to which you have been
sucked in by the troubles and mauled by them.
Orde: I think that is a good point. People ask
me why did I come here. I would never have walked
into this job having not done Stevens. I think you
have to have some idea about what you are doing.
No one here would say it is a worse place now than
it was ten years ago. I think this is a very different
place. I think it is different in two years. I came
here because I thought I could make a difference.
I think it is also about making big brave decisions.
It has always been said dealing in history has been
always too difficult. I dont think that is
the get-out anymore for anybody. I can do my bit.
Others will have to decide what they want to do.
Everyone has their part to play?
Orde: Yes. But I think it is right that we do
our bit. And I dont think we should wait for
others to come in behind us. I think we should move
Did you ever think that you would be quoted as being
influenced by Bobby Sands?
Orde: I didnt say that. I think you should
communicate with everyone. Why are we having this
conversation? Why did I speak to the families of
Loughgall? It was important. It is important to
understand everyones history if you are going
to police them. Why do I speak to David Wright?
Same reason. What I have learned here is that whoever
you speak to it upsets someone. We will wait and
see who this upsets. We have to have our own view
on where we should go as cops. The more views you
get in your mind when you are making your decisions,
I think the better you are going to be. But, it
One question that we forgot to type up
Orde: Crikey, you have got more.
One last one. There are reports about the Republican
Movements winding down and disbanding the
IRA; one thing being suggested is Sinn Feins
absorbing the redundant volunteers of the IRA and
telling them that they would be going into political
espionage. Political Intelligence Unit,
I think it is being called. Tying in with something
along those lines, there have been a number of protests
about CCTV cameras going up in different areas,
particularly in Ardoyne. Yet there is also surveillance
undertaken by the IRA in those same areas using
cameras and whatnot; how will the PSNI approach
political espionage done by members of an organization
and surveillance and spying?
Orde: Well, CCTV surveillance is pretty overt
and there to protect people. We know that it reduces
crime. It displaces some crime, and we can fix that
and it makes communities feel safer. Its back
to us being the same as everyone else and thats
what its used for. Its as simple as
that. In terms of other people, well if they break
the law, we will deal with it. There are all sorts
of complex rules about what is and what is not an
offence, privacy and all that sort of stuff. We
just deal with the police bit. I think the notion
that we are so sophisticated that we are also social
engineers - that is not my business. My business
is to protect people.
So in a sense, maybe, the RUC had the attitude that
they were the front line of the war. And that impacted
how they approached policing. And now the PSNI which
you are looking at as not being part of the war
but being part of the policing, is that why you
might see a difference?
Orde: Nobody declared a war here. And there
was never a war in legal terms. There was an extremely
difficult policing environment and lots of people
called it a war. But I think you are talking about
a continuum. And what I am charged with policing
is very different to what my predecessors were charged
with. Famous last words, but police officers have
not been murdered in the last two years as a result
of the troubles. Although we almost lost one last
weekend. So I think it is a very different thing.
And where we are, I think, ahead of the game is
we have responded very quickly. I am currently going
to every single district with my deputy reviewing
their performance at a local level just to get a
real feel for what is going on. And what are they
talking about? They are talking about volume crime,
anti-social behaviour, kids on corners, DPPs. The
threat is still there but they are far more focussed
on ordinary policing, but with the knowledge that
this place can move very quickly one way or the
other. We havent dismissed the dissident republican
threat. I think it is disorganised but they are
still capable. But I think our guys have moved very
And that would be in your eyes a mark of progress?
Orde: I think it is sensible that my guys are
interested in reducing crime, interested in working
in partnership. If you look at their frustrations,
they are about structural things like how do we
engage with health to deal with drugs, can we get
some money for a joint initiative that type
of stuff. The biggest issue facing this place seems
to me, policing. And some funds we are still denied
access to, where we could really move.
Has it moved on from the typewriter culture which
you were amazed at when you came here?
Orde: Yes, it has. How we focus our resources
is far more sophisticated. How we manage our money
is far more sophisticated. This is not a bottomless
pit. We are an expensive police service. But we
have now got a grip on finances as well as outcome.
I think our biggest success in two years is how
we have empowered our district to get on with local
policing without having to continually refer to
the top. And we have supported them with a proper
Crime Operations Group that deals with serious crime.
I saw the Irish News this morning and the
murder rate is up but so is the clear up rate. If
you are a district commander wherever in Northern
Ireland and a murder happens, you get a professional
team who come in from the centre and deal with that
for you in an organised way. If you look at the
trend, violence generally by paramilitaries is dropping.
Anything you want to add that didnt get asked?
Orde: I am a nice person! Not really no. You
are very welcome.
Just one final point on the significance of the
Provisional intervention in Ardoyne, you had earlier
predicted a very peaceful summer. But without their
intervention your hope for peace would have dissipated
as quickly, some republicans would say, as Gerry
Orde: You have your miserable hat on again.
One and a half hours. One and a half hours of violence
in the whole marching season. No baton rounds. A
few people got wet. Some of my officers got injured
but not many. In terms of was that successful? It
wasnt bad. It should not have happened. The
worrying bit for me was the attack on the soldiers.
It was incredible restraint. Huge level of violence.
In terms of restraint shown by the soldiers, that
I think thats true and I think Kellys
intervention, in many ways was crucial despite what
republicans may criticise him for. I think he did
save nationalist lives on the day. I am just wondering
about the depth of the conflict here in that the
Paras, according to Thomas Harding of the Daily
Telegraph, exercised constraint but they came
very close to discharging their weapons. Which could
have reproduced a Bloody Sunday in that maelstrom?
Orde: What Thomas Harding chooses to write is
a matter for Thomas Harding. They did not is the
point. We can always do but they might have
done, but they didnt. If they didnt
fire weapons when that level of violence was displayed
towards them. The ultimate irony is that they were
put there to protect the nationalist community from
people further up the road coming in. And they were
attacked by the community they were trying to protect.
There were interventions by community leaders and
it did only last an hour and a half. And no one
fired anything more than water. Now you tell me
that is not a bad marching season.
Are you happy enough with it overall?
Orde: I am never happy when there is violence.
It is a big issue for next year around the law and
the role of the parades commission which I think
will move on. But overall, I think it was good.
How would you prefer to see the marching season
Orde: I would like to see it as a community
event where all sides celebrate each other's cultures.
If you look at Notting Hill Carnival which I policed
for twenty odd years from 1997 onwards. 1977
violence, murders, stealing desperate. Then
it moved from its public violence and disorder,
through time and organisational engagement with
the committee organising it, to a public safety
issue. It is a public safety issue now, because
over a million people come into a square mile. We
must have a vision that at some stage we are a mature
enough society again none of my business
- where people can understand where other people
are coming from and it is seen as a celebration
rather than different sides rubbing each others
noses in it.
If vacancies come up in the future for the press
secretary post will Robin Livingstone get the job?
Orde: I havent seen Robin for a bit.
Thanks very much.