Commenting after the Chief Constable Jon Boutcher briefed the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster on Wednesday, Carla said:
‘‘It is hugely concerning that at least 50 serving PSNI officers have applied for work in Australia in recent times. Although, for some, the recent data leak was the straw that broke the camel’s back, unsatisfactory pay and a lack of on-the-job support have also led to many employees reconsidering their career in local policing.
Our officers and police staff are dedicated public servants, often putting themselves, and their families, in harm’s way in order to serve the entire community. They deserve better and should be entitled to the same benefits in terms of pay rises and access to things like occupational health services as their counterparts in the United Kingdom.
It was shocking to hear the Chief Constable say that in some cases local bakeries are offering starting salaries that are higher than a newly recruited constable in the PSNI. Even if recruitment restarted overnight, we are now in a situation where there is little incentive for young men and women to come forward and join the police service. This carries huge implications for responding and investigating crime in the longer-term.
Jon Boutcher has been frank in declaring that he will not be afraid to challenge his accounting officer responsibilities and the pressures facing the PSNI budget in order to ensure current and future recruits can receive a fair pay deal. He has a statutory duty to tackle crime and keep people safe and it is right that this is to the fore. We cannot have a situation where more and more detectives are leaving the Service without being replaced and officers are being directed away for neighbourhood roles.
The DUP will not be found wanting in seeking a sustainable solution to the crisis in the PSNI’s finances and to the challenges facing our public services as a whole. It is clear that the Government’s current proposals do not go far enough in addressing the problem. Northern Ireland has been funded below need in recent years and our committed public sector staff have become collateral damage. There is political consensus that this must change. Rather than sticking plasters, we need to see long-term changes to how our Province is funded so the public's desire for better services can be met and the process of transforming things like health and education can ramp up. Policing cannot and will not be an afterthought in that process. Households and businesses should not be expected to pay more for a less visible, effective and responsive police service.’’