PSNI Recruitment freeze alarming but not unexpected: Clarke

DUP South Antrim MLA and Lead Policing Board representative Trevor Clarke has responded to the announcement that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is to freeze officer recruitment due to budgetary constraints.

By Trevor Clarke MLA

South Antrim

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‘This news is alarming but not unexpected. The pressures currently engulfing the PSNI’s budget are sadly a symptom of a decade-long underinvestment in policing. They are a symptom of the running failure by successive Justice Ministers to prioritise effective police numbers in line with independent recommendations and the NDNA commitment.

Those suggesting a pause on recruitment could have been prevented by a fully-functioning Executive are living in a fool’s paradise. Conor Murphy’s draft budget would have slashed funding for justice in contrast to all other departments.

Given the significant numbers of police officers who retire or leave service each year, the decision to halt recruitment will limit manpower and resources available to operational policing in the coming months. Understandably, there is a desire to protect recent gains in neighbourhood policing, however there is also a rising concern regarding the capacity to replace experienced investigators. Any net loss of these skills has the potential to reduce the quality of investigations as well as support for victims.

A key element of the projected shortfall in PSNI funding relates to officer pay awards. The DUP will continue to make the case at Westminster for the Treasury to make available additional funding to ensure the implementation of these, and other, public sector pay settlements.’’

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