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Chief constable backtracks on controversial rebranding of PSNI

PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne has backtracked on a proposal to change the force's badge on uniforms and equipment.

Mr Byrne had floated the idea on Friday of modifying the emblem, removing the words Police Service Northern Ireland from the badge used on signs, vehicles and uniforms.

Unionist parties and the Police Federation had voiced opposition to the proposals.

Mr Byrne, speaking to BBC NI, said there was "no point in taking the proposal forward" due to opposition to the idea.

He told the BBC: "Clearly, there's no point trying to push the ball uphill when we've got other priorities.

"I don't think it was a mistake because if you're going to move on and be progressive you've got to test new ideas.

"So I think we close this issue down and keep the eye on the big prize, which is improving community policing."

Mr Byrne said that it will now not form part of a public consultation of modernising the look of the PSNI.

In a later statement, Mr Byrne said it had been his ambition to make the PSNI more "accessible and responsive".

He said: "The name of the Police Service of Northern Ireland is set in law and will not be changing, nor will there be any changes to the service crest and emblems. I recognise entirely that the crest is enshrined in law.

"This has resulted in much debate and commentary and provoked a strong reaction from some.

"I have listened to the feedback and as a result can confirm that the simplified white version of the crest planned for use on social media and digital platforms will not now form part of the public consultation and will no longer be used."

Mr Byrne said he wanted to "move away from the use of the acronym PSNI" and focus more on the world "police".

He added: "I am keen to develop this. Indeed, our social media platforms have recently been updated to reflect this.

"We will continue with our plans to launch our public consultation later this year and would welcome the feedback and contribution from all our communities to help shape the look and feel of the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

DUP Policing Board member Merveny Storey said: "The PSNI has many more important priorities in tackling crime rather than a rebranding exercise.

"Contrary to what has been said, Policing Board members had to press the PSNI for the detail about this rebrand. Eventually details were secured last Thursday, and members were given an opportunity to study the detail but were unaware that the chief constable was going to tweet all detail on Friday.

"Lessons must be learned going forward to ensure this does not happen again. All Policing Board members should be trusted with the detail throughout such a process so important feedback can be given on matters that would have a political impact."

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) said it was "time to move on" from the matter.

PFNI Chair, Mark Lindsay, said: “In our pre-consultation phase, we saw merit and value in much of what was proposed. At the heart of what was set out was a desire to simplify and modernise PSNI branding.

“The pre-consultation was open and transparent. One element, however, subsequently received some push-back. The chief constable has reacted promptly to acknowledge and address the concerns that were expressed.

“It is now time to move on from here. In our view, this does not take away from the worthwhile goal of modernising the look of the service. For example, work on uniforms and vehicles must proceed as it will benefit officers in a meaningful and practical way.

“The chief constable has listened and acted promptly and we share his desire to do what is best for the PSNI and the full range of services officers provide this entire community.

Belfast Telegraph