Royal Ulster Constabulary

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)[n 1] was the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2001. It was founded on 1 June 1922 as a successor to the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC)[1] following the partition of Ireland. At its peak the force had around 8,500 officers with a further 4,500 who were members of the RUC Reserve.

Royal Ulster Constabulary
Badge of the RUC
Flag of the RUC
AbbreviationRUC
Agency overview
Formed1 June 1922
Preceding agency
Dissolved4 November 2001
Superseding agencyPolice Service of Northern Ireland
Legal personalityPolice force
Jurisdictional structure
National agencyNorthern Ireland
Operations jurisdictionNorthern Ireland
Map of Royal Ulster Constabulary's jurisdiction
Size5345 square miles 13,843 km²
General nature

The RUC policed Northern Ireland during the aftermath of the Irish War of Independence, the Second World War, the Irish Republican Army's (IRA) Northern Campaign (1942–44) and Border Campaign (1956–62), and throughout the Troubles (1960s–1990s). Due to the threat from the IRA, who saw the RUC as enforcing British rule, the RUC was an armed and militarised police force. Officers routinely carried submachine guns and assault rifles, travelled in armoured Land Rovers, and were based in heavily-fortified police stations.[2] It was the first police force to use rubber and plastic bullets for riot control. The RUC's membership was overwhelmingly Protestant and it was accused by sections of the Catholic and Irish nationalist minority of one-sided policing and sectarianism. Officers were also accused of police brutality as well as collusion with loyalist paramilitaries.[3][4] Conversely, it was praised as one of the most professional police forces in the world by British security forces.[5]

During the Troubles, 319 RUC officers were killed and almost 9,000 injured in paramilitary assassinations or attacks, mostly by the Provisional IRA, which made the RUC the most dangerous police force in the world in which to serve by 1983.[6][7][8] In the same period, the RUC killed 55 people, 28 of whom were civilians.[9] In 2000, the RUC was awarded the George Cross for bravery.

The RUC was superseded by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2001. The former police force was renamed and reformed, as is provided for by the final version of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000.[10] The allegations regarding collusion prompted several inquiries, the most recent of which was authored by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan in 2007. The report identified police, CID and Special Branch collusion with loyalist terrorists, but no member of the RUC has been charged or convicted of any criminal acts as a result of these inquiries. The Ombudsman stated in her conclusions that there was no reason to believe the findings of the investigation were isolated incidents.[11]