Belfast Telegraph

PSNI force of 7,000 not sustainable, says deputy chief constable

By Michael McHugh

A police force of almost 7,000 PSNI officers in Northern Ireland is not sustainable, the deputy chief constable said.

An independent inspectorate has said plans to increase the number of PSNI officers are not affordable because of tight budgets.

Drew Harris warned of further reductions despite a review recommending a strength of 6,963.

"The reality is that this will not be sustainable in the future.

"By April 2016 we will have around 200 fewer officers due to a high number of officers retiring and limited scope for recruitment.

"Going forward there is likely to be further reductions in officer numbers."

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said the service had yet to reconcile the drive to grow numbers with separate efforts to reduce the number of posts at district levels and warned of a £104 million funding gap by 2018/19.

HMIC said the PSNI had not yet moved to an operating model which could be funded by its allocated budget.

The Police Federation has called on PSNI managers to appoint 1,000 new officers to combat the security threat posed by dissidents and loyalist and republican rioters.

Chairman Mark Lindsay said: "What HMIC says is that this assessment is likely to be the beginning of a long period of retrenchment where the current strength of the service could reduce by almost a third unless urgent action is taken to reverse the slide.

"This will have a severe detrimental impact on both communities and the officers who serve them."

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