Shortage of police officers to drive response vehicles is deeply concerning - Nesbitt

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Shortage of police officers to drive response vehicles is deeply concerning - Nesbitt

At yesterday's meeting of the Policing Board, Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt raised the issue of a shortage of police officers who are fully trained and qualified to drive police vehicles in response mode, using blue lights and sirens. Mike Nesbitt also questioned why the issue had never been raised by the PSNI in discussions with the Policing Board. The Chief Constable stated that the issue was logged in the PSNI's Risk Register which is available to the Policing Board. Having checked the Register, Mike Nesbitt has written to Simon Byrne in the following terms:

Dear Simon,


I write to follow up on yesterday’s discussion at the Policing Board when we touched upon the issue of officers who are not trained to drive in response mode, using sirens and blue lights.


I remain deeply unhappy that this significant issue has not been raised by the PSNI in any written or verbal briefing to the Policing Board, either at committee or board level.  As a Board member, I take seriously my duties, both as a critical friend and advocate – in the latter case, I hope you would acknowledge my work criticising the PSNI’s budget shortfall. However, I can only react to the information I am given and I regret my knowledge of the drivers’ issue was gleaned anecdotally.


I note ACC Bobby Singleton’s comment yesterday that this issue was “chief among the concerns of frontline response officers” and that it had a significant negative impact on officers’ welfare and wellbeing. On that basis, how can it be acceptable that no Board member or senior Board staff member appears to have been aware of the issue?


At the Board meeting yesterday, you stated that the issue was recorded in the PSNI Risk Register and that Board staff had access to this information. I have examined said register as recorded in Policing Board Minutes of our ARAC (Audit and Risk Assurance Committee) of both 25 January 2022 and 26 April 2022 and can find no such reference. I would, therefore, be grateful if you could either point me to where I might find the log of this issue.


I would appreciate an early response, given this impacts my ability to help fulfil the Board’s statutory duty to secure an effective and efficient police service.


Mike Nesbitt MLA