More than a decade on from the establishment of the PSNI, policing continues to be a disputed and often divisive issue in the North.
In those ten years there has been intensive debate about the nature of policing, particularly in nationalist and republican communities.
While there are still some uncertainties about policing, one thing that cannot be denied is the huge changes that have taken place.
These changes are evident in the actions of the PSNI, and more importantly, in the way that police actions can be scrutinised by the various bodies set up to hold policing to account.
The apology issued to Derry’s mayor yesterday for a police raid on his home last month is one of those examples of just how far we have come on policing. Ironically, it also stands as a reminder that not all policing problems have been solved yet.
At the time, the raid on the mayor’s home provoked an angry reaction with many, including the mayor himself, likening it to the worst actions of the discredited RUC.
However, the fact that he has now received an unreserved apology from the city’s police chief shows that the police are no longer unaccountable. In the past such police actions were met with condemnation but little else. Now structures are in place to ensure that police mistakes, where they occur, are not allowed to go by unacknowledged.
It also sends a clear message to those out there who want us to believe that nothing has changed. Yesterday’s apology from the police exposes that position as entirely mistaken.