Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Police get £31m terror fight fund

Theresa Villiers said Northern Ireland has received a fair deal in the spending review

Police in Northern Ireland are to be given an extra £31 million to fight against terrorism.

The cash injection was confirmed in Chancellor George Osborne's spending review and extends the £199.5 million of Treasury support provided to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2011.

"The ongoing provision of £31 million in security funding for the PSNI is clear evidence of this Government's commitment to maintain pressure on the terrorists to make Northern Ireland a safer place for everyone," said Secretary of State Theresa Villiers. The funding will be allocated as part of the £9.5 billion resource budget for 2015/16.

The level of threat posed by republican terror groups such as Oglaigh na hEireann, who murdered prison officer David Black last November and killed PSNI recruit Ronan Kerr in April 2011, has been classed as severe, which means an attack could be imminent. Paramilitaries have also been responsible for attempted mortar, grenade and gun attacks on police as well as punishment shootings within their own communities in recent months.

Earlier, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott raised concerns about the impact of budget constraints on operations. He said tough choices had to be made about the £25 million being spent policing the past and warned that detectives tied up investigating crimes from 40 years ago were unable to focus on present-day problems such as drugs, human trafficking and cyber crime.

"Child exploitation, child abuse, sex offending, people trafficking, drugs - these are really serious issues around people's wellbeing into the future and with a diminishing budget we have got some tough choices to make. A significant amount of our detective effort is currently looking back 30 or 40 years. I understand how important that is but actually we have young people growing up today exploited; we have women brought over here as slaves; we have the big problem of the drugs trade; let alone the paramilitary threat which is still very real.

"In the weeks leading up to G8 we had potential mortar attacks, punishment shootings, we had explosive projectiles - the whole range of terrorist attacks which need to be dealt with if the future is to be preserved. And we are in a time of austerity - budgets are being cut but the need is even greater, so we are going to have to prioritise," he said.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Northern Ireland's proposed resource budget has been cut by 2% to £9.6 billion for 2015/16. Thousands of public sector workers including civil servants, teachers, prison staff and police will not receive automatic annual pay rises based on length of service and there will also be a cap of 1% on pay increases for 2015/16.

Ms Villiers claimed Northern Ireland has received a fair deal in the spending review, which sets out how the Government will reduce its deficit by cutting public spending and prioritising investment.

She said: "At a time when the Government is taking the necessary measures to tackle the record deficit we inherited, today's spending review represents a fair settlement for Northern Ireland. In particular, Northern Ireland will benefit from significant new money for capital spending, enabling the Executive to invest more in our roads, schools and hospitals and other infrastructure projects. This comes on top of the additional money already announced since 2010 and will help in delivering key elements of the economic package agreed by the Government and the Executive earlier this month."

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