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Police Service of Northern Ireland (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2002-06-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: northern ireland | ulster | police service of northern ireland | royal ulster constabulary |
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[Police Service of Northern Ireland] by Jan Oskar Engene

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Introduction of the badge and flag

Following up on the reports on a new police badge for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, it might be of interest that the Policing Board of Northern Ireland has decided unanimously on a design containing a St. Patrick's cross, a six-pointed star, and six different symbols: crown, harp, shamrock, scales of justice, torch and laurel leafs. According to earlier plans, the new police flag will be the badge on a green field. The decision of the Policing Board of Northern Ireland will need further approval before going into force. However, the UK's Northern Ireland secretary has spoken in favour of the proposed design, so it will probably be the badge authorized by a future "Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland)."

Source: BBC News

Jan Oskar Engene, 21 December 2001

Today, as the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 comes into operation, the new badge is taken into use for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The PSNI flag consists of the police emblem on a dark green background. I have made a reconstruction of the flag based on an official graphic of the PSNI emblem assuming that the badge fills four fifths of the height of the flag. Whereas the size of the badge is not certain, the image will be an approximation of the new PSNI flag. 

Regulation 9 of the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002, on Flying and carrying of the Service Flag and other flags, contains an interesting provision as to the use of the PSNI flag: "Subject to regulation 10, the Service Flag is the only flag which may be flown on land or buildings used for the purposes of the police, or from a vehicle, vessel or aircraft used in connection with the police." Section 10 deals with the British royal flag which is allowed on police buildings during royal visits. The interesting thing, though, is that the regulation states that the PSNI flag also must be used at sea. I read this as saying that no other flag or ensign may be used on police vessels, meaning that the PSNI flag is also an ensign. If this is correct the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 has actually introduced a new ensign (a" green ensign" of sorts at last!) for the United Kingdom by what must be a most unusual legal procedure. Or am I wrong?

Jan Oskar Engene, 5 April 2002

I received a reply from the Northern Ireland Office concerning a question I put to them regarding the use of the PSNI flag on police boats. In the reply it is said that PSNI boats will no longer fly the blue ensign and will only use the PSNI flag. I was also told that the adoption date for the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 was 22 January 2002. The regulations were then approved by Parliament.

Jan Oskar Engene, 5 April 2002

Royal Ulster Constabulary

[Royal Ulster Constabulary blue ensign]  ensign by Graham Bartram, badge added

On 6 November 1947 the Royal Ulster Constabulary asked the Admiralty for a warrant to fly the Blue Ensign defaced with the RUC badge on the 41 foot ex-RAF sea-plane tender used for anti-smuggling patrols on Upper and Lower Lough Erne.

Naval Law Department wrote that arguments against granting it were:
1. The Blue Ensign was a maritime flag and this was for use on an inland waterway.
2. No other Constabulary had a defaced Blue Ensign.

Arguments in favour were:
1. Admiralty had full jurisdiction on inland waterways.
2. One yacht club on a lake had had a Blue Ensign.

Warrant granted 1 January 1948 under section 73 of Merchant Shipping Act 1894.

Public Record Office Kew ADM 1/20883.

Latterly I understand, the ensign has been used only on the vessel "Grey Lady" during VIP visits.

David Prothero, 6 April 2002

[Royal Ulster Constabulary blue ensign]   badge scanned from The Chief Constable's Annual Report 1995, by David Prothero

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