Belfast Telegraph

£200m police cash decision imminent

A Government decision is imminent on whether police will get the extra £200 million they want to combat dissident republican violence.

Justice Minister David Ford told the Assembly that Secretary of State Owen Paterson was backing the bid for added funding from Treasury reserves.

The Alliance Party leader said he had called for an urgent decision and told MLAs the issue was the subject of top-level discussions.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) wants an extra £245 million over four years. The Executive has agreed to providing an additional £45 million to the Department of Justice, which the minister said he will direct to the police budget. It is hoped the Treasury will provide the remaining funding.

"I met the Secretary of State yesterday. I have impressed the urgency upon him and I expect to hear an outcome shortly," said Mr Ford.

"I know the case is being discussed at the very highest levels of government."

The minister said he had worked closely with Chief Constable Matt Baggott on the issue.

"The agreement reached on devolution of justice to this Assembly recognised that access to the reserve would be possible for exceptional security pressures," he said.

"That is the situation we are in and the chief constable has made a compelling case for additional funding to help keep people in this community safe and to bear down on those responsible for terrorist attacks."

He added: "In respect of the main police grant, I have already made it clear that I have sought to protect the PSNI budget in recognition of the pressures they face."

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