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Über dieses Buch

This book explores the challenges of combating terrorism from a policing perspective using the example of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC (RUC) in Northern Ireland. The RUC was in the frontline of counter-terrorism work for thirty years of conflict during which time it also provided a normal policing service to the public. However, combating a protracted and vicious terrorist campaign exacted a heaving price on the force. Importantly, the book addresses a seriously under-researched theme in terrorism studies, namely, the impact of terrorism on members of the security forces. Accordingly, the book examines how officers have been affected by the conflict as terrorists adopted a strategy which targeted them both on and off duty. This resulted in a high percentage of officers being killed whilst off duty - sometimes in the company of their wives and children. The experience of officers' wives is also documented thus highlighting the familial impact of terrorism. Generally speaking, the victims of terrorist attacks have received scant scholarly attention which has resulted in victims' experiences being little understood. This piece of work casts a specific and unique light on the nature of victimhood as it has been experienced by members of this branch of the security forces in Northern Ireland.



Chapter 1. Introduction

The Royal Ulster Constabulary GC (RUC) was to the fore in combating terrorism in Northern Ireland. The costs of doing so were high both in terms of the death and injury of its officers. The RUC performed a counter-terrorism role as well as attend to the civilian policing needs of the population. The impact of terrorism on the lives of members of the security forces and their families is a seriously under-researched topic in terrorism studies. The book addresses this theme in a series of chapters using unique qualitative research material based on work with a number organisations, namely, the Northern Ireland Retired Police Officers Association; the Disabled Police Officers Association Northern Ireland; the Wounded Police and Families Association; and Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Widows Association.
Neil Southern

Chapter 2. The Challenges of Policing in a Deeply Divided Society

Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society. From 1969 to 1998 an ethnic conflict raged in the province. During this period there was a high level of terrorist activity. In 1976, the British government introduced a policy of police primacy which placed the RUC at the forefront of combating terrorism. This chapter explores the nature of ethnic terrorism and the challenges it poses to counter-terrorist agencies. It also touches upon the role which organisations played in the United States vis-à-vis support for the republican movement and the nationalist political vision. The problems which a bordering state—the Republic of Ireland—can cause counter-terrorist organisations are examined.
Neil Southern

Chapter 3. The On-Duty Threat

This chapter explores the terrorist threat which RUC officers encountered when they were on duty. Terrorists were well armed and RUC men and women were exposed to a range of potentially lethal weaponry—hand guns, high velocity rifles, drogue bombs, RPG-7 rockets and mortars. Accordingly, police stations became heavily fortified and officers patrolled in armoured cars and Land Rovers. They also wore body armour when on duty. However, these often proved ineffective against mortar attacks and large culvert and roadside bombs.
Neil Southern

Chapter 4. The Off-Duty Threat

Terrorists adopted a strategy of attacking officers when they were off duty. 28% of officers were killed when off duty. This is a considerably high percentage and reflects the emphasis that terrorists placed on this form of targeting. Officers were killed in a variety of contexts: travelling to and returning from work; whilst socialising; attending church; and some were murdered in the presence of their wives and children. A frequently used means of attacking officers was the undercar booby-trap device. Unlike soldiers who live in heavily protected barracks, police officers lived in unfortified homes and therefore experienced a greater degree of vulnerability. The chapter accounts for the off-duty threat and how it was responded to by officers.
Neil Southern

Chapter 5. The Impact of Terrorism on Officers’ Families

The familial impact of terrorism is an area of terrorism studies which is seriously under-researched and thus poorly understood. The IRA’s off-duty targeting strategy meant that officers were vulnerable to attack when they were at home. This had a negative effect on family life. In addition to officers having to remain security conscious, so did their wives and children. Some officers who were under threat, had to move home. This caused serious social disruption to the officer’s family. The ‘police family’ had an important social part to play in providing support for RUC families during the Troubles. This chapter explores the impact of terrorism on RUC officers’ families and pays particular attention to families which have suffered bereavement.
Neil Southern

Chapter 6. The Experiences of Injured Officers

In addition to the hundreds of officers who lost their lives in the conflict, thousands were injured. Some officers sustained severe physical injuries resulting in the amputation of limbs. Bomb blasts have created single, double and triple amputees. Amputation was most often caused by explosions although gun attacks involving high-velocity rifles could also result in limb loss. Therefore, RUC officers experienced battlefield-like injuries similar in kind and degree to military personnel injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, these were police officers and not soldiers and some were badly injured at their homes in undercar booby-trap explosions. Officers also sustained psychological injuries and many suffer from PTSD.
Neil Southern

Chapter 7. Women Officers and the Conflict

Women RUC officers served alongside their male colleagues. Although they were not deliberately targeted by terrorists, they experienced many threats similar to those experienced by RUC men. For example, they travelled in vehicles when they were attacked by rockets; caught up in bomb explosions; they were in police stations when they were attacked by mortars. Accordingly, policewomen died in these kinds of attacks. However, unlike their male colleagues they were unarmed for most of the conflict but many received unofficial firearms training from RUC men. Women officers’ views on the question of carrying guns differed. The conflict fostered a spirit of camaraderie between male and female officers which helped breakdown the kind of gender barriers that exist in other forces. This chapter accounts for the experiences of women RUC officers during the Troubles.
Neil Southern

Chapter 8. The Experience of Victimhood

The victims of terrorist attacks have received little scholarly attention. Moreover, the nature of victimhood, as it is experienced by members of the security forces, has been ignored in terrorism studies. This has resulted in a gap in academic knowledge. Victimhood is experienced differently amongst RUC officers. For example, injured officers have a justifiably stronger sense of victimhood than officers who emerged from the conflict unscathed. However, many officers feel alienated in the post-settlement period. They believe that there is an effort to sully the name of the RUC and portray the organisation as a causal factor in the conflict. Yet the facts demonstrate that it was terrorist groups, most notably the IRA, which was responsible for the majority of killings during the Troubles and not the RUC (nor wider security forces). This chapter considers the nature of victimhood as it is experienced by members of the RUC.
Neil Southern

Chapter 9. Conclusion

This chapter considers the key lessons that can be drawn from the example of the RUC. The RUC demonstrates that a police force is capable of taking the lead role in combating terrorism although the costs of doing so can be high. It accounts for the main points of each chapter and suggests that states need to consider carefully their options when it comes to combating terrorism. The point is made that more attention needs to be paid to the victims of terrorism—thus emphasising the terrorist as perpetrator of violence. It also discusses the role of hard power in combating terrorism. The chapter concludes by accounting for the contribution of the RUC not only to fighting terrorism but maintaining Northern Ireland’s constitutional position within the United Kingdom.
Neil Southern


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