Mr Clarke said:
‘‘It is no secret that the crisis facing our health service has threatened to spill over into policing. The latest response figures are deeply alarming and demonstrate that officers are increasingly being tasked with attending incidents that relate primarily to a health need.
These calls are often complex and time-intensive, meaning valuable police resources are diverted away from crime investigations and fewer officers are available to address threats to the public.
It is unfair that the PSNI have to pick up the pieces. The Department of Health needs to recognise that the failure to properly invest in urgent and emergency care or deal with the crisis in mental health has an adverse impact on other frontline services.
In this context, the decision to impose even further requirements on the PSNI to enforce Covid passports is not prudent. It is unsustainable to expect officers to spend their time enforcing this distraction project, especially when no credible evidence has been presented that it will have a tangible benefit on transmission or hospital admissions.
The Health Minister must acknowledge the serious operational challenges facing the Police Service. The latest regulations have the potential to negatively impact response times across our Province. It is high time those ministers who endorsed this policy explained why they think such an outcome is acceptable.’’