RUC Reserve recruitment poster
Dimensions: 50 x 59 cm
Organisation: Royal Ulster Constabulary
Source: Police Museum
A recruitment poster for the newly formed Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) Reserve. In 1969, the British army were deployed on the streets in Northern Ireland after the RUC became overwhelmed by the escalating disorder. The British government, then responsible for law and order in the province, set up an inquiry to examine the structure, organisation and composition of the RUC and to recommend changes for the “efficient enforcement of law and order”. The resulting Hunt report was published in October and recommended that the RUC be disarmed and expanded and that their military duties be taken over by a new Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). The report concluded that the USC be disbanded and a new RUC Reserve established. Other recommendations included establishing a Police Authority and Police Advisory Board, greater links with other British police forces and an increase in the number of Catholics in the force. The publication of the Hunt report triggered riots in the Shankill area of Belfast. Loyalists and the British army exchanged fire and RUC Constable Victor Arbuckle became the first policeman to be killed in the recent Troubles.
The Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 implemented many of the Hunt report recommendations. The old RUC ranks were abolished and replaced by the British structure. The new Police Authority for Northern Ireland became responsible for the recruitment and maintenance of the force. Police on patrol were no longer regularly armed and the British army established the UDR. The RUC Reserve Force become the Special Patrol Group and the RUC cadet system was established. The act aimed to increase the strength of the force to 4,490 by 1975 and to create a police reserve of 1,500 for duty in calmer areas, freeing up experienced RUC officers to work in disturbed areas.