Chief Constable urges Bradley to increase police numbers now
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has asked Secretary of State Karen Bradley for assurances that the number of police officers will be increased post-Brexit.
Amid calls to bring the service closer to the 7,500 recommended in the Patten Report, Mr Hamilton confirmed he has approached the Government to boost resources.
The Chief Constable said: "I made it clear to the Secretary of State the need for additional resources to prepare for PSNI's post-Brexit role at last week's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
"While I don't want to put a exact figure on it, I believe the post-Brexit establishment should be in the region of 7,000 officers rather than the 6,600 that it is currently."
Ms Bradley revealed she is considering the request from Mr Hamilton for more resources.
DUP MP Jim Shannon, who claimed that 50 experienced officers were leaving the force every month, said: "I'd urge her to do more than consider.
"Act now to keep the experienced officers. Recruit and train new officers and get the PSNI back to a level where it can operate effectively."
Ulster Unionist policing spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA backed the call for more officers on the streets: "If our police service is going to be effective in the increasing and diverse roles it is required to take on, then it must be adequately staffed.
"The Patten Report set the PSNI staffing figure at 7,500 and that was before the challenges we now face were apparent.
"It is clear that we need more officers available on the streets."
SDLP policing and justice spokesperson Dolores Kelly MLA said that the lack of resources faced by the PSNI was unacceptable.
"The current total officers, in a time where we still haven't dealt with the past, is a cause for serious concern.
"The SDLP are supportive of the Chief Constable's calls for a recruitment drive to ensure we have a police force that meets the level of challenges we face here, especially with the unknowns of Brexit hurtling down the track."
The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry said that Brexit was going to place extra pressure on the PSNI.
"The PSNI have to plan for a whole range of scenarios, including a hard Brexit with a new border or a no deal situation."
He added: "We could see considerable additional pressure upon police resources such as supporting other state agencies in the conduct of their activities.
"This work cannot be commenced from a standing start next March, we need to make preparations now."