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Police Service of Northern Ireland (United Kingdom)

Last modified: 2020-04-25 by rob raeside
Keywords: northern ireland | ulster | police service of northern ireland | royal ulster constabulary | george cross |
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[Police Service of Northern Ireland] by Jan Oskar Engene, 5 April 2002

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Introduction of the badge and flag

Following up on the reports on a new police badge for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, it might be of interest that the Policing Board of Northern Ireland has decided unanimously on a design containing a St. Patrick's cross, a six-pointed star, and six different symbols: crown, harp, shamrock, scales of justice, torch and laurel leafs. According to earlier plans, the new police flag will be the badge on a green field. The decision of the Policing Board of Northern Ireland will need further approval before going into force. However, the UK's Northern Ireland secretary has spoken in favour of the proposed design, so it will probably be the badge authorized by a future "Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland)."

Source: BBC News
Jan Oskar Engene
, 21 December 2001

Today, as the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 comes into operation, the new badge is taken into use for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The PSNI flag consists of the police emblem on a dark green background. I have made a reconstruction of the flag based on an official graphic of the PSNI emblem assuming that the badge fills four fifths of the height of the flag. Whereas the size of the badge is not certain, the image will be an approximation of the new PSNI flag. 

Regulation 9 of the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002, on Flying and carrying of the Service Flag and other flags, contains an interesting provision as to the use of the PSNI flag: "Subject to regulation 10, the Service Flag is the only flag which may be flown on land or buildings used for the purposes of the police, or from a vehicle, vessel or aircraft used in connection with the police." Section 10 deals with the British royal flag which is allowed on police buildings during royal visits. The interesting thing, though, is that the regulation states that the PSNI flag also must be used at sea. I read this as saying that no other flag or ensign may be used on police vessels, meaning that the PSNI flag is also an ensign. If this is correct the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 has actually introduced a new ensign (a" green ensign" of sorts at last!) for the United Kingdom by what must be a most unusual legal procedure. Or am I wrong?
Jan Oskar Engene
, 5 April 2002

I received a reply from the Northern Ireland Office concerning a question I put to them regarding the use of the PSNI flag on police boats. In the reply it is said that PSNI boats will no longer fly the blue ensign and will only use the PSNI flag. The adoption date for the Police Emblems and Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 was 24 January 2002. The regulations were then approved by Parliament.
Jan Oskar Engene
, 5 April 2002

Wikipedia shows a variant to this flag at, but Jan Oskar Engene's image above is correct, save in one very small detail. That is, the background to the internal part of the badge upon which the small emblems are placed, should be dark green, rather than grey. I would say
something like R:0, G:33, B:33 (see The "dark green" for the background of the flag is not defined in the relevant order, although on World Flag Database the background and the internal background of the badge are the same shades of green, which would make some kind of sense to me.
Colin Dobson, 11 September 2007

Royal Ulster Constabulary

[Royal Ulster Constabulary blue ensign] ensign by Graham Bartram, badge added

On 6 November 1947 the Royal Ulster Constabulary asked the Admiralty for a warrant to fly the Blue Ensign defaced with the RUC badge on the 41 foot ex-RAF sea-plane tender used for anti-smuggling patrols on Upper and Lower Lough Erne.

Naval Law Department wrote that arguments against granting it were:
1. The Blue Ensign was a maritime flag and this was for use on an inland waterway.
2. No other Constabulary had a defaced Blue Ensign.

Arguments in favour were:
1. Admiralty had full jurisdiction on inland waterways.
2. One yacht club on a lake had had a Blue Ensign.

Warrant granted 1 January 1948 under section 73 of Merchant Shipping Act 1894. “... expedient that certain vessels of the the Royal Ulster Constabulary should be permitted to wear the Blue Ensign of His Majesty’s Fleet with the badge of the said constabulary thereon.” “ be worn on board the motor launches owned and used by the Royal Ulster Constabulary on the waters of Upper and Lower Lough Erne.” Not necessary to have a warrant for each boat. [National Archives ADM 1/20883]

Latterly I understand, the ensign has been used only on the vessel "Grey Lady" during VIP visits.
David Prothero, 6 April 2002

[WW2 Royal Ulster Yacht Club] image located by David Prothero, 11 October 2015

A 1944 photograph of a Royal Ulster Constabulary launch is flying what appears to be a Royal Ulster Yacht Club ensign.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary was not granted its own ensign until 1948, and before that did not normally fly a flag of any description. However during the Second World War there had been occasions when RUC launches were fired upon by members of United States forces stationed in Northern Ireland, on the basis that the launches were manned by armed personnel, but did not display national colours, and must therefore be ‘enemy’. The use of yacht club special ensigns was suspended in wartime, and the adoption of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club ensign by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, as a temporary measure, would have been a logical option.
David Prothero, 11 October 2015

[Royal Ulster Constabulary blue ensign]   badge scanned from The Chief Constable's Annual Report 1995, by David Prothero

Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation

[Royal Ulster Constabulary blue ensign] by Mark Sensen

I found "the new flag of the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation" in the College of Arms newsletter issue 2 (August 2004) which can be found from

Flag of the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation.
Under the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000, the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation was established to mark the sacrifices made by members of the RUC. Its name commemorates the award of the George Cross to the Constabulary made in 1999. By Royal Warrant dated 20 May 2004 Her Majesty the Queen granted and assigned the Foundation a flag. For an illustration, see above. The warrant is recorded in the College of Arms with the reference I.85 / 169.

Vert amid Shamrock proper a Harp Or stringed Argent all within an Oval Strap also Vert buckled fimbriated and garnished Or lettered in Gold ROYAL ULSTER CONSTABULARY GEORGE CROSS FOUNDATION and ensigned by a representation of Our Royal Crown proper and in canton a representation of the George Cross Argent.
Mark Sensen, 22 January 2005

 "Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation" was last updated in 2006, but anyway the existence of the RUC ended in 2001, so the foundation would seem to have existed beyond the times of the RUG if it was issued a flag in 2004.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 28 March 2008