The grave threat posed by criminal elements across Northern Ireland formed a central part of the report delivered yesterday by the Police Oversight Com-missioner, Tom Constantine.
He made it clear that some very dangerous individuals, including killers, were walking the streets because, in some areas, people were too frightened to talk to the police.
Mr Constantine, an internationally respected figure, who is in charge of monitoring police reform, said he could see no valid reason which would prevent all sections of the community from supporting the new service.
He warned that attitudes towards criminal gangs might only change in the aftermath of a major atrocity.
Mr Constantine, and many other observers, could be forgiven for wondering why it should take some future disaster to influence public attitudes in this regard.
There had been a widespread perception that Sinn Féin members were moving ever closer to accepting their seats on the Policing Board.
However, recent political upheaval in particular the completely unjustified decision by Tony Blair to postpone the Northern Ireland Assembly elections has led to suggestions that republicans were putting all initiatives over policing on indefinite hold.
Perhaps this was an inevitable response, but the opportunity still exists for republicans to display to the world that Mr Blair had made the wrong call.
By endorsing the new policing structures, Sinn Féin leaders would be proving their commitment to the cause of progress in a way which made calls for further clarification of their intentions entirely redundant.
They would also be helping to ensure that the new police service would be in a much stronger position to win the battle against crime in all districts.
No one would underestimate the difficulties involved for all sides in resolving the policing debate, but an enormous prize is at stake.
The message sent out by Mr Constantine deserves to be treated with the utmost seriousness.