Rank-and-file PSNI officers have hit out at politicians for “vilifying the police” during loyalist riots in a bid to selfishly appeal to their potential voters.
Warning of a “difficult summer of conflict” ahead, the Police Federation criticised politicians who publicly made disparaging remarks about how officers on the frontline have been handling outbreaks of violent disorder related to the Union flag protests.
Several politicians have accused the officers of being too heavy-handed while policing protests and riots.
Striking back at the criticisms in its magazine, Police Beat, the Police Federation said it was “a shame on many of our politicians that they persist in vilifying the police as heavy-handed when what is obviously uppermost in their mind is selfishly appealing to their vote”.
The federation added that the past three months of public order situations and “political utterances” have shown that “politics in Northern Ireland have advanced little since the signing of the 1998 Belfast Agreement”.
Since July more than 350 PSNI officers have been injured policing parades and disorder during the marching season and Union flag protests and related violence which erupted in December.
Concern has been raised on several occasions by the PSNI and Policing Board members over the level of available police resources, particularly at a time of such high levels of public disorder, a severe terrorist threat and several high-profile events, such as the G8.
The Police Federation criticised PSNI bosses for their “zero sense of anticipation” of resource difficulties.
The PSNI recently announced an intention to recruit 300 new officers to the 7,000-strong force later this year. However, the federation says that at least 1,000 more are needed.
“It is a shame on many of our politicians that they persist in vilifying the police as heavy-handed when what is obviously uppermost in their mind is selfishly appealing to their vote.” — the Police Federation.