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Editor's Viewpoint

PSNI can't do its job without proper funds

Editor's Viewpoint


Chief Constable Simon Byrne

Chief Constable Simon Byrne

Chief Constable Simon Byrne

At a time when the PSNI is facing so many challenges, Chief Constable Simon Byrne has revealed to the Policing Board that he is facing an estimated deficit of £53 million.

This is an alarming figure, and Mr Byrne stated clearly that unless he is given the financial resources to balance his budget, "the effects could be quite dramatic".

Only recently the PSNI announced an ambitious recruitment drive to bring in 600 new officers to the training college at Garnerville.

This will obviously cost money, so people will be asking how the PSNI is, on the one hand, seeking badly needed new officers and, on the other hand, still facing severe budget restrictions.

The implications are also severe in terms of the police's continued battle with paramilitaries.

The discovery of a bomb in a lorry in Lurgan earlier this week underlines the continuing threat.

The police believe the device was timed to explode on a ferry to Scotland and was designed to mark the UK's exit from the European Union last Friday evening.

If this had gone off, the consequences could have been catastrophic.

The PSNI is also facing long-running pressures, which are largely caused by the shortage of officers.

There were reports not long ago of spiralling overtime bills within the force, with some individuals earning huge amounts of extra income.

This was clearly an untenable situation, not only because of the money, but also because of the pressure imposed on those individuals working long hours of overtime.

All of this points to the harsh reality that the PSNI has simply been working under huge financial pressures for far too long.

The warning about the lack of funding was a constant theme during the tenure of the previous Chief Constable, Sir George Hamilton.

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey echoed the concerns of the public when he said it was unacceptable that many officers fighting terrorism and organised crime were "working from 180 Portakabins".

He added: "You can't ask teachers or nurses to do their jobs without the resources, and you clearly can't ask police officers to do the same."

Mr Storey is right in declaring that "these financial challenges cannot be sustainably addressed without comprehensive investment in police resources".

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