Nesbitt calls on Justice Minister to act to deliver on Police Budget

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Nesbitt calls on Justice Minister to act to deliver on Police Budget

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Policing Spokesperson, Mike Nesbitt MLA has called on the Justice Minister to intervene following the news that Police numbers will be frozen and the recruitment process halted due to a cash shortage.

Mike Nesbitt said:

“The Ulster Unionist Party has long been highlighting the issue of Police numbers and the failure to meet the target of 7,500 officers as stipulated in the Patten Report back in 1999 and in the New Decade New Approach deal in January 2020. Instead, we are facing a freeze on recruitment that places officer numbers on a trajectory towards 6,000.

“This is, if not a crisis, approaching a crisis because it will impact on service delivery and what we were told last week by the chief operating officer is that we can't just skim - in other words if you have 10 constables you can't cut it to nine or eight, you are going to take out whole police units.

"It's going to get potentially worse. If you stop recruiting, your numbers don't stay steady, they drop because officers retire and move on.

“It should not be lost on anyone that this news has been made public on the same day that the PSNI has published it first ever action plan aimed at reducing violence against women and girls.

“That plan commits the police to ‘relentlessly pursuing perpetrators’ and rooting out inappropriate behaviour in their own ranks, but given that we are now looking at a force well below the 7,500 officers it needs, it’s a fair question to ask if the PSNI will have the officers it needs to perform the tasks it has promised.

“In February of this year the Chief Constable warned in his Accountability Report to the Policing Board, that the impacts of achieving a balanced budget would include ‘a smaller and unrecognisable Police Service by 2025; the Police Service will, ‘by necessity, be less visible, less accessible and less responsive, affecting confidence in and support for policing and overall levels of community safety.’

“Furthermore, ‘over the same period, it is anticipated that there will be a growth in crime impacting the most vulnerable, e.g. child sexual exploitation, cybercrime and
domestic offending.

“It is simply not good enough for the Justice Minister to call it an operational matter and seek to pass the buck. This is about service delivery, affecting the entire community and the ability of the Police to do their job, and it needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency because it is the public who will suffer if it is not. The Minister needs to make the case to increase the Police budget and she needs to make it now.”