Belfast Telegraph

Chief Constable: PSNI will have 200 fewer officers than required by 2016

PSNI respond to 26 reports of RTCs per day - two of which involve death or serious injury

By Claire Williamson

The number of police officers will fall 200 below that required by April 2016 - the Chief Constable has warned.

Addressing the Northern Ireland Policing Board meeting George Hamilton said he anticipated the number of officers to be 6,773 by next year.

He said: "With high numbers of officers retiring, and very limited scope for recruitment next year, it is anticipated that officer numbers will be around 6,773 by April 2016. This is more than 200 below what we have agreed is required."

"The impact of reductions in police officer and staff numbers will be exacerbated by a significant reduction in overtime.  Projected core police overtime budgets next year have been reduced by £6.2m - this equates to over 300,000 hours less of policing. "

Mr Hamilton said that while "the budgets and the human resources in the organisation are shrinking, the demand to which we respond is increasing".

Outlining an average day in the PSNI the Chief Constable said officers respond to 26 reports of road traffic collisions - two of which involve death or serious injury.

A recent analysis showed officers respond to more than 1,300 calls for service from the public and carry out 92 arrests, 89 people searched, 125 prosecution files prepared and £27k worth of drugs seized.

There are also 76 motoring Fixed Penalty Noticed or discretionary disposals issued.

Addressing the issue of resourcing legacy inquests into deaths during the conflict in Northern Ireland - Mr Hamilton called for the Coroner to prioritise the cases in a bid to seek direction to the workload.

Mr Hamilton said there are currently up to 60 involving "hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation".

"PSNI staff therefore jump from one Inquest to the next, as the Coroner directs, without being able to make consistent progress on any one case.

"Were the Coroner to prioritise a number of the Inquests, it would allow the PSNI to deploy its staff with a degree of efficiency, thereby reducing the current delay and dealing more appropriately and honestly with families’ expectations", Mr Hamilton said.

"Unless alternative solutions are found, my very real fear is that delays will increase as the Coronial Inquest workload increases and the impact of the budget cuts continue to take their affect.  I understand the Executive will be taking appropriate steps to improve the Legacy Inquest function and I welcome that. They will have my full support in finding a longer term solution to this issue."

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay set to retire from the PSNI Policing's £22m budget reprieve will 'avert a major crisis' Road safety shock over DoE cuts PSNI drawing up plans to cope with 'drastically' reduced ranks Budget cuts hit road safety campaigns

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