Clarke speaks up for police rank-and-file

The DUP’s lead Policing Board representative Trevor Clarke MLA has urged the Chief Constable to address the perception that cuts to the PSNI workforce are disproportionately impacting rank-and-file officers.

By Trevor Clarke MLA

South Antrim

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The South Antrim DUP MLA said,

‘‘Despite a political commitment to grow police officer numbers to 7,500, the stark reality is that the PSNI is now on a trajectory toward 6,000 - largely because of a failure to prioritise police funding in our Province. Indeed, there is a risk that headcount will drop even further unless the Government urgently delivers the financial firepower that local policing is crying out for.

There is an onus on the Chief Constable to ensure that cuts across the organisation are applied in a way that does not store up problems for the future. The current pause on recruitment is preventing the next generation of officers from entering the profession, yet despite this the PSNI plans to run promotion competitions to more senior ranks. We need to avoid a situation where the PSNI becomes top-heavy in terms of its representation at senior management levels.

Members of the public are most likely to be in contact with a constable or a member of their local neighbourhood policing team. It is crucial that going forward that engagement is protected because in many ways those rank-and-file officers are the face of the Police Service. They are also increasingly becoming the source of vital intelligence that leads to crime being prevented and solved.

Therefore I will be urging Simon Byrne to take steps to ensure the impact of falling police numbers is not disproportionately borne by those at the bottom of the ladder. These officers are feeling the squeeze most acutely from the rising cost of living yet are the lifeblood of operational policing. The DUP will ensure their voice is heard.’’

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