02 December 2005

Teenager appointed to sit on DPP


The Policing Board holds the PSNI to account

A teenager from County Tyrone has become the youngest independent member of a district policing partnership.

Mark McMackin, 18, from Seskinore, outside Omagh is among 215 people appointed as independent members on the 26 partnerships in Northern Ireland.

They will work alongside councillors from all the parties except Sinn Fein.

Chairman of the Policing Board Sir Desmond Rea said it was "another very significant day for the community and for policing".

"DPP's have become an integral and accepted part of local policing and have brought policing closer to the community and the community closer to policing in a way that has never happened before here in Northern Ireland," Sir Desmond said.

The appointments were announced by the Policing Board on Friday.

Statistics from the 2001 census and other data was used to ensure each DPP is representative of the local community.

Of the 215 independent members 129 and women and 86 men, 120 are Catholic and 95 non-Catholic.

The Policing Board reappointed 133 existing members and 82 from 516 who applied following an open public competition.

'Shaping policing'

Sir Desmond said: "It is a legal requirement for the board to ensure that the composition of each DPP as a whole - elected members and independent members together - is representative of the community it serves.

"Therefore the board took into account the community background, gender, age, disability and sexual orientation of all candidates.".

From farmers to photographers, housewives to publicans, engineers to nurses, the age of independent members varires from 18-78.

Sir Desmond said DPPs were making a "significant difference to policing" and those appointed will be at the "forefront of shaping local policing".

"The board will be considering how best it may support the partnerships in the challenging role of gaining the co-operation of the public with the police in preventing crime," he said.

Mark McMackin is part of a second wave to be appointed following the completion of four years by those who first held the posts.

He is currently studying for five A levels at the Christian Brothers School in Omagh.

"I realised the Policing Partnership was made up with members of the council - and I remember thinking their average age was rather high," he said.

"I thought I could sit there and do nothing or go for it and change things.

"I am delighted to have been accepted, I have never been the youngest at anything before."

District policing partnerships were set up across Northern Ireland under reforms initiated by a commission headed by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten and implemented by the government.

They fall under the auspices of the Northern Ireland Policing Board which handles some of the most sensitive issues facing policing.

District policing partnerships are made up of councillors and members of the local community, who work alongside the Police Service of Northern Ireland's 29 District Command Units in trying to meet local community policing needs.

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