Belfast Telegraph

Matt Baggot: Please don’t cut PSNI budget

Police chief’s remarkable plea to the Executive

Chief Constable Matt Baggott has made an emotional plea to the Executive not to cut the PSNI’s budget.

With a severe threat from dissident republican terrorists, the emergence of dissident loyalist groups and the growth in organised crime, Mr Baggott urged the Executive to “please, please leave my budget alone”.

He warned that this is not the time to be cutting police resources and said that the force has faced enough cuts over the past decade.

“I don’t believe this is the time to be cutting the policing budget. I think we already had our cut over the last 10 years. We have got to try and find more money from within but that will take a few years to do.

“My plea to the Executive is, give us what we have got already and then we will work over the next two to three years to try and save money within that. There is an enormous amount the PSNI has to do,” the Chief Constable told a public meeting of the Policing Board in Bangor, Co Down.

Tens of millions of pounds, as well as large manpower numbers, have had to be invested in counter-terrorism operations over the past year. This has resulted in around 70 people being charged with terrorist offences so far this year — compared to 17 last year.

Mr Baggott said that as well as protecting the public from serious harm, the PSNI is also putting a lot of resources into legacy issues.

“We have a lot of things to deal with that are still coming up from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

“You don’t manage 34 inquests and four public inquiries without a significant amount of money going into that and we have to do that because nobody else is doing it apart from the PSNI and if we don’t do it then people won’t be

able to move on with their lives from the past. There are still a lot of victims who still want the answers to what happened,” he said.

Mr Baggott added: “We need enough people to answer the unexpected, to deal with the serious issues like drugs, trafficking, child protection and to deal with serious harm.

“A lot of effort is going into the past, a lot of effort is going into the serious, while also dealing with the recession.

“So all I say is please, please leave me alone in terms of my budget so I can work through the changes we need to make and then we will act very responsibly indeed.

“I understand the dilemma. I’m not asking for a huge amount more.

“If I got another 3,000 police officers tomorrow I would grab them with both hands, but the reality is that we have to deal responsibly with what we have got.”

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