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£800m Hillsborough justice deal not under threat from spending cuts, insists DUP

By Deborah McAleese

The DUP has rubbished claims that the £800m Hillsborough deal over policing and justice has not been honoured.

Last year former Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlined a budget of £800m for the 2010/11 financial year for policing to deal with issues such as hearing loss and equal pay claims following the successful completion of the devolution of policing and justice powers. Not all of the budget, some of which is tied up in land deals, has been received by the PSNI.

UUP Policing Board member Basil McCrea said that the agreement at Hillsborough has not been honoured and that the police force is facing a “desperate funding shortfall”.

“The financial package promised for the deal over policing and justice to be done is not being honoured and we are facing a £50m shortfall this year,” he said.

“That is more than a problem, it is a catastrophe.” DUP Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said, however, that this was “completely untrue” and that as far as he is concerned “there are no indications that the deal will not be honoured”.

The Policing Board was told by the PSNI's head of finance David Best during yesterday’s public meeting that while the Chief Constable is trying to balance his books, there is no indication that the money will not be made available.

The board is currently working through the details of the complex Hillsborough deal with the Department of Justice.

The budget pledged as part of the Hillsborough deal for this financial year will not be affected by the potential 5% to 8% four-year budget cuts that could come into force in the next financial year.

Police Federation chairman Terry Spence said that if these proposed cuts, which have forced the Chief Constable to instigate a recruitment and promotion freeze, are to go ahead “people will lose their lives in Northern Ireland”.

Mr Spratt added: “It is very worrying. We recognise that cuts are going to be coming. We just need to make sure that police numbers are kept up.”

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