PFNI warns of dangerous vacuum as 700 officers due to retire
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has revealed a sharp decline in the number of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers since the beginning of the year.
The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has revealed a sharp decline in the number of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers since the beginning of the year. Although 48 student officers graduated on Thursday (June 22) at Garnerville Training College, the PSNI has still suffered a net loss of 128 officers since the last graduation on January 13. The PFNI is concerned that more than 700 officers are eligible to retire over the next 12-18 months, and its chair Mark Lindsay claims recruitment programmes will only fill a fraction of these positions. Mr Lindsay described the situation as a shameful reversal, and called on the Government to end its austerity programme. He said: This loss of experienced officers, across a range of essential disciplines, is having a dreadful effect on those remaining and will impact negatively on the wider community. Recruitment must keep pace with the loss of officer numbers as they decide to exercise their entitlement to retire from the service. We cannot allow a dangerous vacuum to develop. Neither can we expect fewer and fewer officers to do more and more. Ultimately, it will be wider society which will suffer. He added: We cannot ignore this situation. Nationally, police chiefs are arguing for increased resources, and they have every justification for doing so. Our own chief constable has also warned of the damaging effects. In Northern Ireland, we are facing into a similar crisis, where visibility will all but disappear and the gains made over the past twenty years are at risk of being lost. The Government has to recognise the damage that is being done, and invest in policing rather than continue to slice away at an already inadequate budget. Last month, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton confirmed the force will receive £20 million less funding this year.