PFNI says Chief Constable’s dire warning on cuts must be heeded

PFNI says Chief Constable’s dire warning on cuts must be heeded

7 months ago Resources

PFNI says Chief Constable’s dire warning  on cuts must be heeded

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) says the Chief Constable’s dire warning on cutbacks, reduced visibility, pared back services and falling officer numbers must be heeded by the UK Government.

PFNI Chair Liam Kelly says the Service is going over a cliff edge with seemingly little or no prospect of any short-term financial lifeline. The PSNI has been left in an impossible position, and despite extensive work to balance the books (after being allocated an initial deficit budget of some £107 million), they have effectively reached the end of the road with a residual funding gap remaining of £38 million.

Mr Kelly says: “The Chief Constable has indicated that we are losing an officer from our headcount every day. That means 269 fewer officers on the payroll by the end of the financial year and a further 337 by the end of March 2025. A total of below 6,000 is staring us in the face and that is an appalling indictment of the UK Government who have simultaneously overseen and underwritten an uplift programme of some 20,000 officers in England and Wales.

“I regard what the Chief Constable has said as an optimistic prediction. This number is a projection on expected natural attrition upon retirement but does not include those who leave the service by virtue of ill health, voluntary resignation or under misconduct processes. It is totally feasible that we will shrink to 6,000 a lot sooner than predicted. Regrettably, it is also a real possibility that departures will accelerate faster as morale plummets due to diminished conditions and work pressures becoming overwhelming.

“The Service is being decimated. The public will ultimately suffer as there simply won’t be officers available to respond to their needs. Operational capacity and capability will reduce, and the resilience won’t be there to effectively respond to public disorder situations, protect vulnerable people, manage offenders and prevent, detect and investigate many crimes. That presents a real threat to stability, public confidence, and our legitimacy to uphold the rule of law.

“The Chief Constable’s stark, sobering outlook must be heeded by the Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, but on the evidence so far, it appears he is disinterested, aloof and indifferent towards Northern Ireland, the policing service we provide and the people we safeguard.

“The Secretary of State and his colleagues have turned a deaf ear to the plight of the Service at a time when the threat level here is ‘severe’. Instead, they are playing irresponsible politics with both officer and public safety and security.

 “To date, there has been no comfort or little prospect of halting this headlong decline or securing a short-term financial lifeline to avert this crisis. PSNI is now having to operationally plan on the basis of affordability rather than on the actual needs of our society. As such, PSNI is at serious risk of becoming disconnected and unrecognisable as they become less visible, less accessible and curtailed in their responsiveness.

“The future not only for the police service but the entire community in Northern Ireland is one that should fill our society and political parties with alarm and dread.”

 

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