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

Proposed PSNI cuts 'potentially disastrous' for public and officers

The DoJ has told the PSNI that there will be a further 4.75% cut to its baseline, meaning an extra £35m must be saved on top of the £107m shortfall previously identified.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has warned that plans to reduce officer headcount by up to 700 over the next financial year will make it impossible for the PSNI to "maintain an effective, comprehensive service to the public".

According to the latest Accountability Report by Chief Constable Simon Byrne - presented to the NI Policing Board on April 6 - the service faces an estimated shortfall of £57 million after a range of savings have been made. 

Having discussed this estimate with the Board's Resources Committee last month, the force's Chief Operating Officer Pamela McCreedy explained how it was reached.

She said: "We were saying that above our baseline budget that we had a shortfall of over £100m. So £107m is the figure that we’d referred to in the past.

"That’s mainly built up from a recognition that there are costs that we’re incurring in 2022/23 – primarily around pay – that has an increased cost going into next year that wouldn’t have normally been in that baseline.

“That and the increase in utility costs are the big elements of that £100m [£107m]. We’ve brought forward to you in the past that we could achieve a £50m saving against that...so that has been leaving us with this £57m gap that you will be familiar with."

Ms McCreedy told the Board that £30m of the £50m savings the PSNI can make comes from headcount, with around "600/700 officers and a couple of hundred staff" expected to leave the service through natural attrition by the end of the 23/24 financial year.

This will "present an insurmountable challenge", according to the PFNI Chair Liam Kelly.

He said: "If the cuts remain as projected, we will potentially reduce to 6,000 officers by the end of this financial year, and that is intolerable and unsustainable.

"Hundreds fewer officers simply equate to a poorer service and outcome levels. The general public will be the net losers."

To compound matters, Ms McCreedy told the Board that the PSNI received correspondence from the Department of Justice on April 5 which confirmed a further 4.75% indicative cut to the force's baseline budget.

"So for us that means an additional £35m on the figures that we had previously provided you with," she said, adding that this puts the required savings closer to £150m (£107m shortfall + £35m extra savings).

Ms McCreedy said: "We’ve got plans for £50m, but we don’t have plans for the £100m, as you can imagine...£150m out of our £750m baseline budget is a 20% impact cut to the funding we require to continue services."

She stressed that this is the reality, despite the savings that are being made through reducing headcount, an avenue the PSNI is close to "maxing out".

Telling the Board that "there is nowhere really else to go on the headcount side," Ms McCreedy explained that around 80/90% of the force's costs are currently fixed and cannot be changed in-year, while other "operationally essential" costs such as fuel and ammunition purchases remain unavoidable.

She said: "So if we’re looking at £150m - less £30m - then you ask, ‘where is the £120m that’s being asked of us coming from?'."

Ms McCreedy admitted that the PSNI won't be able to balance the 23/24 budget as things stand.

"I think I need to be honest and say that is not doable," she said, adding that she doesn't know if she could do it in three years - let alone in-year.

The force has since told Police Oracle that where further savings can be made is still to be determined, with the 23/24 budget yet to be set.

Mr Kelly added: "If Ministers are out to erode and degrade policing in Northern Ireland, they’re heading in the right direction.

"Our men and women hold the line in the only region of the United Kingdom where the terrorist threat level is deemed ‘severe’. 

"It is, therefore, all the more inexplicable why our police service is not getting the financial help it urgently needs. We’re at a loss to explain why we’re being singled out and seemingly punished in this way."

Leave a Comment
View Comments 2
In Other News
Ten extra stations to open in Hampshire and IOW
Estate issues behind push for new policing hub in south Wiltshire
"General consensus" for a ballot on industrial rights
More News