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Budget challenges to result in fewer police in Northern Ireland

The PSNI Chief Constable has said that the service will shrink over the next three years.

By March PSNI will have 300 fewer officers and over 100 fewer staff as they stop backfilling leavers due to budgetary challenges.

CC Simon Bryne made the announcement to the Policing Board and briefed staff yesterday that the service is set to shrink across the next three years.

No redundancies will be made, but leavers will not be replaced and restructures will be carried out to minimise the risk to service delivery in certain areas.

It will mean that by March the service will have 75 fewer neighbourhood officers, 96 fewer detectives on murder, terrorism, drugs and organised crime as well as 97 fewer officers in Operational Support (Roads Policing, specialist search/public order teams of the Tactical Support Groups).

CC Bryne said: “We have previously made clear that we will have a funding shortfall of around £80 million by March this year and envisage bigger shortfalls in the years to come

“As a result, the Police Service is going to shrink over the next three years.  By March there will be 309 fewer Police Officers and 115 fewer staff, a reduction of nearly 6%."

The reductions will take the service to a headcount of 6,699 FTE officers – it will be the lowest officer numbers since the service was established.

Meanwhile, the service is yet to see a pay award that was due last September. 

In December, the Fed warned that officers are leaving because they cannot afford to stay. 

Fed Chair Liam Kelly said officers were being offered shifts in hospitality that pay more than what they would earn on a police shift. 

Among the cuts, PSNI will look to maintain the following;

-Protect core emergency incident response and statutory functions

-Continue Neighbourhood Policing

-Protect areas of significant risk such as Public Protection which incorporates domestic abuse, sexual crime and child abuse;

-Understand the impact upon the welfare and wellbeing of our officers and staff.

However, CC Bryne added “inevitably with less police there will be less policing”.

“We will innovate and work in smarter ways to ensure that our resources are put to the most effective use for the community we serve.  We will continue to invest in technology and be ruthless in cutting out bureaucracy,” he added.  

Also on the table is a reduced vehicle fleet – with damaged or broken vehicles waiting longer for service and repair, and deferred building and maintenance work.

Meanwhile, a public consultation will be launched on the reduction of station opening hours, or closures, and modernisation plans (digital and estate) are set to be deferred.

Mr Kelly, has called for an “all-out campaign” to fight the cuts.

He is appealing to political parties, communities, voluntary groups and others to come together against the reductions.

Mr Kelly said: “Policing here is being asked to bear the brunt of draconian cuts. We will see fewer officers and a marked deterioration in services to the general public if these swingeing cuts go ahead.

“There has to be an outcry with all organisations and political parties singing from the same sheet. This is intolerable, potentially harmful and will impact badly on resilience and the ability to fight crime and counter the actions of terrorists.

“This is now a perfect storm with a cost-of-living crisis that’s the worst in living memory, no pay or incremental awards, a ban on recruitment and hundreds of officers preparing to leave the Service by the end of the financial year in March.

“If the aim is to create a sub-standard Service, then Northern Ireland Government Departments, particularly Finance, are going about it the right way.”

Police Oracle has asked PSNI whether recruitment is stopping completely.

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