Police Chief's report highlights pressure on resources

The annual Chief Constable's report, which covers the period from April 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002, has revealed a substantial rise in the reported crime rate.

While this is in part due to improved crime reporting procedures, which have been computerised, the level of recorded crime at 139,786 offences rose almost 17% from the previous year.

The Acting Chief Constable, Colin Cramphorn, also highlighted the pressure on police resources - both human and financial.

A total of 798 officers have left under the Patten voluntary severance scheme with the loss of a substantial amount of policing experience.

Mr Cramphorn said: "While those officers who remain demonstrate a daily willingness and determination to provide the best policing service possible to the people of Northern Ireland, the pressure on human resources is intense and will not ease in the foreseeable future".

The most significant financial pressure during the year was police overtime. This was influenced directly by the reduction in officer numbers coupled with the heavy demands of public order and security policing – as usual the overtime peak was in July.

The Acting Chief Constable reported that the overall clearance rate for crimes had dropped 7%, down from 27.1% to 20.1%. This was attributed to "reduced police numbers and the diversion of scarce resources towards riots and public order situations."

While a major factor in the apparent increase in crime was the implementation of electronic recording through an Integrated Crime Information System (ICIS), which means that more crimes are recorded through increased administrative efficiency, there was evidence of an underlying increase in the levels of crime.

Nevertheless, Mr Cramphorn sought to reassure the community that there remained a "determination within the service tackle head on crime and the fear of crime."

He pointed to significant developments during the year including the introduction of District Command Units (DCUs) based on local district council boundaries, a move designed to bring policing and police decision-making closer to local communities.

The Acting Chief Constable paid tribute to the officers and civilian support staff of the Police service of Northern Ireland for "embracing enormous organisational, cultural and symbolic changes," in the past year, while continuing to provide a "highly professional policing service to all the people of Northern Ireland."


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