The Ulster Unionist Party’s Policing Spokesperson, Alan Chambers MLA, has said that concerns raised by the Chair of the Police Federation today, at the Federation’s Annual Conference, must be addressed.
Alan Chambers MLA said:
“The Chair of the Police Federation focused on the theme that policing is ‘Still under attack.’
“It was a very eloquent speech which deserves the widest possible audience, because it lays bare the frustration felt by rank and file police officers as they try to carry out their duties, protecting and serving the entire community. These are sentiments which as a former member of the RUC Reserve, I fully understand and share.
“The Chair highlighted the scale and impact of physical assaults on officers and called for stronger sentences from the courts for anyone convicted of attacking the police. The police face a serious terrorist threat on and off duty and this obviously impacts on the families of officers. In addition to attacks on officers in their own homes, we have recently witnessed despicable and cowardly attacks on the homes of their parents and other family members.
“The Chair also highlighted the devastating impact of budget cuts on the PSNI, especially in terms of the reduction in police numbers to a level which is seriously impacting on the PSNI’s ability to deliver the full range of services which society requires of it. Numbers now stand at 6,621, a full 500 fewer than the Chief Constable said he needed to effectively police Northern Ireland. And this of course does not take account of ‘at least’ 300 officers that will be required to police even a soft border once Brexit has happened.
“Everyone should be concerned when the Chair of the Police Federation says that ‘it is entirely likely that a whole range of relatively minor crimes will not be investigated. It is not inconceivable that certain calls for help from the public will go unanswered.’
“Concerns were also raised regarding Legacy matters and attempts to re-write the history of the Troubles. I completely agree that it was the actions of the RUC that stopped Northern Ireland slipping into anarchy.
“It is essential that these concerns are listened to and acted upon. When the Police Federation issue warnings about the PSNI’s ability to carry out its functions, they should be heeded. The bottom line is that the Police need to be properly resourced by Government and fully supported by the public so that they can do their job.”