The press release issued by the Ulster Unionists on 21 October 2022.
The Ulster Unionist Party’s Policing Board Representative, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has described the Chief Constable’s warning – delivered in a letter to Party Leaders – of up to 1,000 fewer officers being available over the next three years, as something that no political leader can ignore and a matter of public safety.
Mike Nesbitt MLA said:
“I welcome the Chief Constable’s letter as the latest step in a staged response to what can only be described as a Police budget crisis.
“The letter to the Party Leaders obviously includes the Justice Minister Naomi Long. Surely she can no longer hide behind the excuse that this is an operational matter, given how the Prison Service made it clear that she has engaged in debate on operational decisions regarding staffing levels in the Prison Service.
“Once again people need to understand that if the Police don’t recruit, they don’t stand still they go backwards, because hundreds of officers leave every year for very justifiable reasons including retirement.
“Furthermore, the Director General of the Prison Service recently stated there was a headcount figure below which the Service is unable to keep people safe. This must inevitably also apply to the Police Service.
“My primary concern is that senior officers and staff at the PSNI are now looking actively at cutting services. It is no longer a question of reducing a team of ten officers down to nine or even eight, but redeploying all ten to cover gaps elsewhere and no longer delivering the original service at all.
“When the Chief Constable talks of the prospect of having up to 1,000 fewer officers available over the next three years ‘taking officer headcount closer to 6,000 than the 7,500 commitment made in the New Decade New Approach Agreement’ then this is a warning that no political leader can ignore. It is a matter of public safety.”