Belfast Telegraph

PSNI: we're not overstretched

Force rejects Police Federation claim amid plans to draft in extra officers

By Deborah McAleese

The PSNI has rejected Police Federation claims that the force is under-resourced, amid the development of a contingency plan to draft in officers from UK forces in an emergency.

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris recently told UK police chiefs that the force may need assistance from officers to work in investigation, custody and back office duties so that PSNI officers can be freed up for riot control and counter-terrorism. Terry Spence, the chairman of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, said the short notice mutual-aid contingency plan clearly demonstrates that the force does not have enough resources and is "pushed to the limit".

The PSNI, however, has dismissed the claims, saying that it would "be remiss not to have contingency plans in place in order to deal with exceptional circumstances should they arise".

A spokeswoman insisted it is not a tool for replacing officers who have retired under the Patten severance scheme or as a means of supporting the force in a normal day-to-day policing environment.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott has previously said that the PSNI has adequate resources, particularly after freeing up more than 600 officers from desk-bound duties.

A campaign was also recently launched to recruit 40 experienced constables or detective constables from forces across the UK and the Republic to transfer to the PSNI.

The spokeswoman added: "All resources available to the PSNI are constantly monitored and reviewed responsibly.

"With the recruitment process frozen, this initiative is seen as the best way forward in filling an immediate gap with experienced police officers."

Background

Senior PSNI officers are ironing out arrangements to ensure that, if necessary, they will be able to quickly call up officers from other UK forces. The Police Federation said it demonstrates that the force is under-resourced. The PSNI said it would be remiss not to have contingency plans.

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