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PSNI head warns on police 'choices'

Published 30/04/2015

George Hamilton says the PSNI has to prioritise demand
George Hamilton says the PSNI has to prioritise demand "according to levels of threat, harm, risk and opportunity"

Police cannot be everywhere at one time, Northern Ireland's chief constable has warned.

Laying bare the demands of policing the region, George Hamilton told members of the Policing Board that hard choices must be made.

He said: "It is simply not possible for us to be everywhere at once. We have to prioritise all this demand according to levels of threat, harm, risk and opportunity."

New statistics collated by PSNI analysts show that in a typical 24-hour period police received 1,338 calls for help - 4.4% of which were emergencies.

Officers also made 92 arrests and looked for 26 missing people, half of whom had disappeared from hospitals or children's homes.

During the same time frame they dealt with 166 anti-social behaviour incidents, were called to 26 road traffic accidents where there were injuries, seized £27,000 of illegal drugs, and searched for 89 people, over half of which were drug related.

A rise in offences such as cyber crime, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, which require complex investigation and are often linked to international criminal gangs, coupled with the threat from dissident republican extremists blamed for recent bomb attacks in Londonderry and north Belfast, mean the pressures on a reduced workforce are unprecedented, according to the PSNI boss.

"We are responding to all of these demands during a period of rapidly shrinking budgets and declining numbers of police officers and staff," Mr Hamilton added.

Mr Hamilton said: "If there is a risk to life or an emergency we will be there for people. We will continue to protect the community from the most serious threats presented by organised crime, or paramilitarism and those who exploit vulnerable people.

"Those who do harm to others will continue to be investigated and put before the courts. This includes crimes such as hate crime, domestic abuse, violent sexual offences and child exploitation.

"But in order to prioritise these areas, there has to be some give elsewhere."

It was also revealed that a hate-motivated crime was reported every three hours while domestic abuse incidents were reported every 19 minutes.

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