Belfast Telegraph

PSNI losing up 50 top officers a month, says MP

By Mark Bain

The PSNI is losing up to 50 senior officers every month, a DUP MP has claimed.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley revealed she is considering a request from Chief Constable George Hamilton for more resources.

She was responding to a House of Commons question from Strangford MP Jim Shannon.

He said: "When we look back at the Patten Report, it recommended there should be 7,500 full-time officers. The number currently stands at 6,715 - that's almost 800 shy of where we should be for the PSNI to be effective.

"When you figure in that 50 experienced senior officers are leaving the force every month, we could see a situation where we're sitting at just over 6,000 officers by the end of the year. That's disturbing at a time when we've seen the increase in violence in Londonderry and Belfast in the past few weeks.

"I'm happy that the Secretary of State is considering a request from the Chief Constable for more resources, but I'd urge her to do more than consider.

"Act now. Act to keep the experienced officers. Recruit and train new officers and get the PSNI back to a level where it can operate effectively."

Ms Bradley hit out at dissident republicans who have "nothing to offer their communities" and have "exploited" children into violence in Derry.

She also condemned the recent "serious disorder" in Belfast that took place over the Twelfth.

Ms Bradley told MPs: "As the Chief Constable informed me this morning, there have so far been 15 arrests in connection with the violence in Derry and 10 people have been charged.

"In many cases it would appear that young people are being exploited and goaded into criminal activity by adults who have nothing to offer their communities."

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Tony Lloyd said the levels of civil disorder were "very serious" as he told Ms Bradley to show leadership.

"There is now an obligation of leadership - it's an obligation of leadership on Arlene Foster and on Michelle O'Neill, but there is also a demand for leadership from her as Secretary of State and from the United Kingdom Government," he said.

"We've got to re-establish that the Good Friday institutions must be made to work once again."

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said there had been considerable progress and there was worse violence at a time when the Executive was in place, adding that the need for extra police resources was key.

Former shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith said: "The vacuum in our politics in Northern Ireland, while not wholly responsible for this, is at least partly responsible and I urge her to do more to fill that vacuum with political dialogue and restore the institutions."

Ms Bradley replied: "I agree we need political dialogue but I have to say there is no excuse for the violence we have seen, there can be no excuse whatsoever, it is totally unacceptable behaviour."

Belfast Telegraph

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