Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Policing 'survival plan' as force loses 17 officers every month

PSNI has around 10,500 staff, including civilians who do non-policing tasks
PSNI has around 10,500 staff, including civilians who do non-policing tasks

The police force in Northern Ireland is "haemorrhaging" 17 officers every month because it is not replacing those who leave, the Deputy Chief Constable has said.

Senior commanders want enough Government money for a fresh recruitment drive to cover community policing, terrorist attacks and public disorder.

A team will be set up to conduct interviews and progress criminal cases more efficiently as part of a major rethink of how routine policing operations are run.

Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said: "This plan is a survival plan and hopefully it will prove to be our thriving plan, but without 'Service First' the business would fall over. We cannot continue the way we are going because the districts are haemorrhaging resources month on month through natural wastage."

The PSNI has around 10,500 staff, including civilians who do non-policing tasks.

Just under 7,000 of those are officers, following dramatic cuts in numbers introduced after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended the conflict and envisaged a peace time policing operation.

Since then a resurgence in bombings and shootings by dissidents has consumed resources.

A Service First plan will begin in Belfast in February and senior commanders believe it will allow them to meet day to day demands on police with fewer officers.

Ms Gillespie said a total of 60 officers in Belfast are expected to leave in the longer term, out of a total of 900 in the city. Another 90 will form a dedicated team.

Currently a single officer responds to a report of a crime, gathers evidence and steers the matter through any legal process as investigative officer.

From February response officers who attend calls for burglaries or other emergencies will spend more time doing that, handing their other cases to colleagues.

She promised: "We will not compromise on officer safety and we will not compromise on public safety."

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