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PSNI must be funded to function properly

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 24/10/2016

It is surprising, therefore, to hear a senior police officer suggest that there is not a lack of police resources in Belfast
It is surprising, therefore, to hear a senior police officer suggest that there is not a lack of police resources in Belfast

This newspaper has revealed that it took more than an hour for the police to respond to the theft of a valuable art work from a newly opened hotel which is situated near a police station in Belfast.

Meanwhile, the Belfast High Sheriff Jim Rodgers, a member of the Belfast Policing and City Community Partnership, claims that fewer than 30 police officers are on patrol in the city's streets at the weekends.

It is surprising, therefore, to hear a senior police officer suggest that there is not a lack of police resources in Belfast.

It is obvious that the views of the police and our public representatives differ greatly.

The PSNI spokesman admitted that while the art theft took place near a police station, their officers do not spend their shifts actually in the station, but are on patrol "to keep people safe".

How safe is the centre of a city when a valuable and large piece of art can be stolen, beside a major police station?

In this instance the police have tried to dodge the issue, with language that is too clever by half, and which fools nobody.

The main problem, which has been apparent for years, is the serious underfunding of the PSNI. According to a spokesman for the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, there have been £250m pounds of cuts in the police funding during the past few years.

This level of cost-cutting is unsustainable, and the results of the current under-funding are available for all to see.

However, there is little encouragement from the Department of Justice spokesperson who has stated that decisions on how resources are used are a matter for the Chief Constable, and that there are no immediate plans to conduct a review of policing.

In plain language that is passing the buck, and the public deserves more than statements from the PSNI and the Department of Justice which underline that their comments on these urgent issues are little more than the use of verbal smoke and mirrors.

The evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, is that of a service which is stretched to police the present, as well as dealing with dissidents and trying to investigate the past.

It is imperative that more resources are made available for the police, and politicians must ensure that there are enough funds for the PSNI to function properly. The Policing Board and the Department of Justice have a key role to play, so let them get on with it.

Belfast Telegraph

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