£14m cuts to PSNI are ‘reckless and irresponsible’, says PFNI

The chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has criticised the Government for using policing as a “financial scapegoat” amid further cuts to funding.

Dec 20, 2017

The chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has criticised the Government for using policing as a “financial scapegoat” amid further cuts to funding. Following a ‘budget preparation exercise’ by senior civil servants, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is set to lose a further £14 million, in addition to the £180 million already cut from the budget over the past four years. The proposals equate to annual funding for 280 officers, and with hundreds due to retire next year, it is possible the force could reduce in size to below 6,000 officers for the first time, the PFNI said. PFNI chair Mark Lindsay said he could not believe senior civil servants would support such a “reckless and irresponsible” decision when the PSNI is already cut to the bone. “This is a worrying development and one we will resist. We have a severe terrorist threat to our officers, more complex crime and intolerable workplace pressures on officers. “There seems to be a failure to deal sensibly and urgently with police funding in Northern Ireland at a time when we are witnessing the negative effects budget cuts have had on policing nationally. “Police forces in England and Wales are able to carry over savings from previous financial years, whereas the PSNI have to hand back any efficiencies they make to the department and, in effect, have no ‘reserve’. Additional revenue can also be raised in England and Wales through local council taxes, which is not an option for Police funding in Northern Ireland. He added: “The PSNI is also under pressure to deal with an increasing number of unfunded legacy matters, which add significantly to unique financial pressures which are being loaded onto the organisation. “This suggestion of a further cut in the PSNI allocation needs to be consigned to the bin. There must be full realisation that a modern-day Police Service needs to be properly resourced. “Instead of brutal, poorly thought-out cuts, we need politicians and civil servants to go in to bat for the PSNI rather than acquiesce or prevaricate.” In May, Chief Constable George Hamilton confirmed the PSNI would receive £20 million less funding this year. The number of officers at the force is expected to drop from 6,838 to 6,600 over the next two years.

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