We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

NI officers urge Assembly to back them with more recruits

Northern Ireland’s political leaders have been urged by frontline officers to back plans to increase their ranks.

Ahead of a crucial finance debate in the Assembly, rank and file officers in Northern Ireland urged politicians to fund the recruitment of 600 extra officers to bring their force up to a strength of 7,500.

The uplift is part of the deal agreed in January by the political parties to get the Northern Ireland government running again. The deal, which in part led to the replacement of the Northern Ireland Secretary, is projected to cost an extra £40m.

But the Police Service of Northern Ireland has to put in a business to case to the Justice Department to make it happen.

The combination of the stalled government and the austerity era meant the force has lost around £200m, according to the Audit Office. It now urgently needs money to invest in new buildings and IT.

But it also has the political agreement to increase officers to 7,500 and the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) doesn’t want politicians to consider just funding improvements.

Mark Lindsay, Chair, Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) told Police Oracle: “We have consistently made the case over the past six years for an increase in the number of officers to 7,500.

“We currently sit at 6,900 and that is not a sufficient number to give us resilience and deliver the type of community policing we need. When you take leave and illness rates into consideration, that headline total falls even further, and that is unacceptable.”

The auditor has warned the force will need a radical new approach to funding and that it needs to modernise.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne has begun a modernisation programme with demands for new IT and a switch for the first time in generations to neighbourhood policing.

Assembly politicians have signalled support but they are debating spending of £200m and Economy Minister Diane Dodds has called for the cash to be given to struggling businesses that have been dwindling since COVID-19 began in March.

She said: “I identified a very full range of supports that are needed for Northern Ireland, including for those who have been excluded so far, manufacturing, microbusinesses, further discretionary funds for councils and the need for an economic recovery fund.”

But Mr Lindsay said there was widespread support for PSNI to get its funding for officers: “The Chief Constable and the Northern Ireland Policing Board support us in our calls for this increase.

“A figure of 7,500 has been agreed by the political parties in Northern Ireland and is contained in the ’New Decade, New Approach’ agreement. It is now time for them to deliver on their promises and not just issue soundbites.”

He warned: “Failure to provide the funding stream needed to recruit the hundreds of additional officers that are needed will result in a ‘make do and mend’ approach by the service which will inevitably place undue and unacceptable pressures on serving officers." 

The PSNI told Police Oracle the case for investment was clear.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Deputy Chief Constable, Mark Hamilton said: “Policing in Northern Ireland faces a multiplicity of challenges in the months ahead and boosting officer numbers to 7,500 is at the heart of our aspiration to invest significantly in neighbourhood policing and build community confidence.  
“Growing our numbers is one of three key priority areas.  We are also committed to increasing our use of digital technology and improving an ageing police estate.” 

Leave a Comment
In Other News
Lindsay joins staff leader exodus
PSNI chief under pressure after critical review of COVID-19 response
Garda opens chance for more PSNI to join management team
Forensic clues could lead to 1982 IRA killers, says Boutcher
PSNI refocuses on local concerns highlighted in perception survey
PSNI to trial E-bike patrols to enhance neighbourhood policing
PSNI praised by HMIC but told to improve its grievance procedures
PSNI does not have enough detectives for historic case reviews
PSNI stations reopen after COVID-19 outbreak among 60 officers
Career PSNI officer joins management team
More News