PFNI ‘disappointed’ as policing ignored in £1 billion DUP deal

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) believes officers are being “taken for granted” after the Prime Minister’s £1 billion agreement with the DUP ignored policing.

Jun 27, 2017

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) believes officers are being “taken for granted” after the Prime Minister’s £1 billion agreement with the DUP ignored policing. Infrastructure, health and broadband providers will receive extra funding from Theresa May’s deal to stay in power following the loss of her majority. The investment – on top of £500 million already committed to Northern Ireland – includes some flexibility on where it can be spent, but the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) appears unlikely to benefit. PFNI chair Mark Lindsay said he was “disappointed” at the omission given the pressures facing officers. He warned that further lack of investment could damage neighbourhood policing and called for a “stay of execution” on projected cuts. Mr Lindsay said: “It seems from this deal that the work they do is going unheeded or else being taken for granted.” He added: “We’re burning the candle at both ends right now. It is a situation that cannot continue indefinitely and I would appeal to politicians in positions of power and influence to address the chronic funding shortfall and call a halt to austerity. “If the new and welcome cash from London creates the space for budget flexibility, then we would ask that policing be treated as a priority in any re-allocation that takes place.” The PSNI faces a three per cent funding cut this year with £20 million expected to be dropped from the force’s budget. It has already suffered a net loss of 128 officers since January. The PFNI is also concerned that more than 700 officers are eligible to retire over the next 12-18 months and claims recruitment programmes will only fill a fraction of these positions. Mr Lindsay believes the lack of investment could lead to further cuts to neighbourhood policing and damage the PSNI’s capability for proactive investigations. He added that an absence of visible policing could cause others to fill the vacuum, “be it paramilitary groups or criminal gangs”. However, he welcomed the decision to invest £50 million in improving mental health services in Northern Ireland, claiming it could help alleviate demand. “Mental health issues are something that are very close to our hearts in the PFNI and we are getting to the stage now where a lot more people are reporting these issues,” he told Police Professional. “If the investment in mental health also looks at places of safety for people with mental health issues, so they are not always brought to a police station, that can only be welcomed. “But again, that fundamentally takes away from the fact that policing as a whole has not really been covered in the agreement.”

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