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Cuts mean more calls won't get police officer visit

By Deborah McAleese

Published 05/06/2015

More police calls are to be resolved over the telephone rather than in person as the PSNI attempts to deal with slashed budgets and manpower.

Chief Constable George Hamilton told the Policing Board that "financial realities are challenging" and the organisation will have to prioritise its workload.

He said that "more and more" non-emergency calls were going to have to be dealt with by appointments or over the telephone.

The warning has sparked concern among some officers who fear that less contact with the public could have an adverse effect on confidence in policing.

"We are becoming more and more removed from the public. We want to build up good relationships with the public, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to offer a personal police service," one neighbourhood officer said.

Mr Hamilton also warned that police visibility will be noticeably reduced, but insisted that officers will be there "to protect the most vulnerable in their hour of need".

He said he will have to pay close attention to the capacity and capability of the organisation as it continues to shrink in size.

"Understanding that crime is changing and resources are shrinking, we need to take a long-term, realistic view about what policing should look like in five years," he said.

As the PSNI prepares for the marching season, he said that policing "does not have the resolution to parading issues", and warned that the organisation "can little afford to deal with the symptoms of continued impasse".

Mr Hamilton added, however, that "despite the lack of a long-term resolution on parading issues, and the continuing frustration within some of our communities, violence and disorder is not inevitable in 2015".

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