22/08/2019

Police Chief Calls For More Officers

Northern Ireland's police chief has called for a fresh recruitment drive to see more officers instated across the region.

Simon Byrne said he would like to see a commitment to recruit more officers following the Prime Minister's pledge to boost police numbers in England and Wales.

Boris Johnson committed to recruiting an extra 20,000 officers by 2022.

The local chief constable believes personnel should be boosted in line with the Patten recommendation of 7,500 full time officers. There are currently around 6,700 in Northern Ireland.

Speaking this week, Mr Byrne also hit out at the political impasse at Stormont, which he believes is "unhelpful" for local policing.

He said the PSNI has become the "shock absorber" for failures elsewhere as a result of the political vacuum.

Stormont has been without a functioning executive since January 2017 when the two main parties split in a bitter row.

The region's police force faces many challenges, not least the potential to police the border with the Republic of Ireland if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in October.
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Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie today welcomed Mr Byrne's call for increased numbers within the PSNI to match recommended levels.

"This is a fundamental change of step for the PSNI," the justice spokesperson commented.

"As a no-deal BREXIT appears increasingly likely, it is important the UK is prepared and that is especially the case in this part of the UK, which will have a land frontier with the EU."

The DUP also welcomed the call to recruit more officers, but slammed the 50:50 recruitment system.

MLA for north Antrim Mervyn Storey highlighted issues regarding new applicants from nationalist backgrounds. The Policing Board member said: "We want to see more officers on the streets from every background. This Chief Constable must also call out the facts that there is a problem in nationalist and republican areas both with recruitment and with cooperation. 

"50:50 recruitment was flawed and sectarian and is not the answer.  People should not be selected on the basis of their religion but on their ability. 

"There are talented potential recruits in the nationalist and republican community but they do not feel supported in pursuing a career in policing. This major obstacle must be addressed far beyond the corridors of Knock headquarters."



(JG/CM)

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