Belfast Telegraph

PM: make do with PSNI budget

Prime Minister David Cameron told Stormont politicians they must make the best of the policing budget they have got when he was quizzed on justice funding last night.

He insisted it would be wrong to “stand on the shoulders” of MLAs now justice had been devolved, but he told MPs he was confident he could match the commitment of police in the Republic that there would be no let-up in the policing of the border, despite the difficult economic times.

Quizzed by Laurence Robertson, Northern Ireland Affairs committee chairman, over funding for policing and justice, he admitted the “security issue is troubling”.

“We look at everything we can do to help and all the contingency plans we can make,” he added.

“I think we are sticking by the commitments made by the previous Prime Minister in terms of the training college and capital expenditure.”

Mr Robertson told the Prime Minister the PSNI spends one third of its budget on security, pressing him on the cash available from the Treasury. Mr Cameron replied: “We believe they have what they need. Obviously, this is something that we have to keep under review.

“There was agreed access to the reserve as proposed by the previous Prime Minister. We stick to that.

“It is important, having devolved policing and justice, that we say to colleagues in Northern Ireland you must try and make the best decision you can within the budget you have and allot your resources accordingly and then come back to us if there is a real problem. Having devolved, we shouldn't try and stand on their shoulders.”

Last night Policing Board member Strangford MLA Jonathan Bell said the policing budget must rise in accordance with the increased threat from dissidents.

He said: “Terrorism is on the rise in Northern Ireland and police resources will have to rise. It is unfortunate this will have to come out of other areas.

“Cutting the policing budget is unacceptable and doesn’t make logical sense.”

His Policing Board colleague Jimmy Spratt, South Belfast MLA, agreed the budget should rise.

He said: “Mr Cameron promised to honour commitments made by Gordon Brown and I hope he will stand by that.

“The current budget is not adequate and it needs to be protected and increased.”

Policing Board member Basil McCrea, who last week claimed that dissidents had reached 97% of the past capability of the Provisional IRA, last night said the PSNI needed more resources.

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