Belfast Telegraph

Pensioner's ordeal is the reality behind the statistics

By Deborah McAleese

Look at the battered face of 79-year-old pensioner Betty Young.

This is what crippling cuts to the PSNI's budget looks like.

Mrs Young was left with a broken arm, bruised ribs and a black eye after she was mugged in the Shankill Parade area of west Belfast.

The vicious attack comes at a time when the PSNI is having to operate on a massively reduced budget and cuts to officer manpower.

Just six months ago Chief Constable George Hamilton warned about the impact these crippling financial cuts were going to have on the effectiveness of Northern Ireland's police service.

In a confidential briefing to the Policing Board last year, Mr Hamilton said he feared that there would be a "reduced ability to keep people safe, prevent and detect crime, leading to Article 2 (the right to life) risks".

The document also stated that fewer police vehicles would be available for deployment, roads policing would be affected and all police stations, except those in large urban areas, would only open part-time.

Mr Hamilton predicted that the budget cuts would "fundamentally change how policing is delivered".

This is the second year recorded crime levels have increased in Northern Ireland. Part of the increase could be attributed to a rise in the number of people coming forward to report incidents, particularly in cases of hate crime, domestic violence, sex attacks and paramilitary attacks.

Any increase in crime is a cause for concern but behind the bald statistics are vulnerable victims like Betty Young. Crimes like this increase fear among the public.

The challenge for the PSNI is how to reduce crime, detect crime, solve crime and keep people like Mrs Young safe... only with less money and fewer police officers.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph