The Ulster Unionist Party’s Policing spokesperson, Alan Chambers MLA, has welcomed the announcement of additional funding for the PSNI to help the force prepare for Brexit, but warned that the PSNI is still well below the staffing levels recommended by the Patten Report.
Alan Chambers MLA said:
“At the end of May the Chief Constable said that the PSNI required millions in funding to recruit additional officers to police a post-Brexit scenario, with particular regard to border security.
“At the time the Police Federation said that a least 300 officers would need to be redeployed to effectively police even a soft Irish border.
“I therefore welcome the announcement that the Treasury has allocated £16m to the PSNI for financial year 2019-20, which will enable the police to recruit a total of 308 additional officers and staff by April 2020 and make some investment to the police estate, IT and infrastructure.
“However, this does not address the major problems facing the PSNI in terms of staffing levels or repair the damage caused by successive budget cuts. Nor can we get away from the fact that this is a Police service that is seriously short of numbers. The Patten Report recommended that the PSNI should have 7,500 officers plus an enlarged Part Time Reserve of up to 2,500 officers.
“Given that the PSNI’s own website said it has 6,638 officers as at 1 December 2018, it is clear that the PSNI is seriously under-staffed, and the force is only operating due to extensive use of overtime and the dedication and professionalism of our officers and their commitment to the job they do.
“The 308 officers that can be recruited as a result of this additional funding are very welcome, but many more are needed to ensure the PSNI has the numbers it needs to provide the full range of services which the public expects and deserves.”