30 officers leave PSNI every month without being replaced
Policing in Northern Ireland is said to be on the verge of breaking point as it was revealed 30 officers are leaving the PSNI every month.
According to figures released by the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, up to 200 will retire or leave by the end of June. And with no replacements expected to graduate over the next six months, further pressure is being heaped on those officers remaining.
The Police Federation also said that the freeze on recruitment took no account of natural wastage or officers leaving for less pressurised jobs.
Federation Chairman Mark Lindsay said the fact that there will be 250 fewer police on the books by June raises significant issues of service resilience and delivery.
"There are inherent risks here," Mr Lindsay said. "Fewer officers will mean increased pressures on colleagues. More and more will be expected of them with knock-on consequences on their physical and mental well-being, and intolerable pressures on their families.
"In addition, we have seen the pressures manifest themselves in terms of service delivery. Neighbourhood policing has virtually disappeared from all but a few areas, with the result that officers are less visible to communities."
He added: "Incidents of crime have increased by 5.7% since 2013 and this trend is set to continue if policing is not adequately resourced. Worryingly, there is an under-reporting rate of 53% of comparable crime, which emphasises the pressures policing is already under.
"This situation needs to be addressed with some urgency. I know politicians are distracted at present, but they must take action to stop the erosion and undermining of the PSNI.
"The public has a right to expect a professional, responsive service but this depletion, if allowed to go unchecked, will lead to an inevitable further deterioration in service. The men and women I represent are committed and professional people who want to see steps taken to avert a crisis but there is a limit to what can be achieved with inadequate resourcing."