PSNI is in a “strong position” according to its chief operating officer, who warned services would be impacted by a £60m shortfall.
Addressing the BBC’s Nolan Show, Pamela McCready noted that in the next three years there would be 240 fewer officers in each of the next three years, for a reduction of 700 by the end of the third year.
“Currently we have 7,000 officers. You can imagine that by the end of the third year you will have 700 fewer officers, which should affect the quality of the services you provide,” she said.
“The PSNI employs about 9,500 people, of which 7,000 are police officers. To cope with the natural attrition of officers leaving, which is about 240 people a year, we need a recruiting campaign and a regime that we can attract to be able to replace these officers and maintain our numbers.
She explained that 133 recruits were fully trained from 2020 but were unable to complete the training because the PSNI had not received the money and said there was £60 million missing from the police budget.
“This is the last group of the 2020 campaign we are working on. When we look at 2022/23, to save this year, we really need to cut headcount from 7,000 to 6,768 by the end of March 2023.
“We haven’t completely frozen recruitment, but there’s a big difference in recruiting 150 officer students as opposed to 350.”
The New Decade agreement, which saw Northern Ireland return to power-sharing in 2020, mentions a promised additional 500 police officers, but Ms McCready said funding has not been secured over the past few years. may increase to this number.
“The financial side takes care of itself — people are leaving, so we are crystallizing these savings,” Ms McCready added.
“The problem within the organization is that people will leave, but not necessarily in the areas of business that we want them to work in. We need to move people around the organization and retrain them in new roles that will affect promotions.”
Ms. McCready said the service industry that the PSNI is fully committed to protecting is local and area police teams and contact management centers.
She noted that there is a particular focus in crime on violence against women and vulnerable groups, serious organized crime and drug trafficking, but added that “potentially things like investigations will take longer, and that’s not good for the victims.”
“I don’t expect this year we are going to say that there will be service areas that we will stop in, but if this budget affects us this or next year, we will need to look at what service areas where we cannot deliver.
“The budget drawn up at the beginning of the year indicated that over these three years we were short of 226 million pounds. The Fiscal Council report also notes that the judiciary is actually the hardest hit by this budget increase,” she said.
“We have a contingency planning package that basically took our baseline from last year and brought it forward. We received £40m less than last year, so it’s definitely a problem for us.”
UUP police council spokesman Mike Nesbitt said Ms McCready’s comments “should send a wake-up call that cannot be ignored.”
“One of the main problems with the police budget is that a significant portion – up to one-fifth – comes from other sources of money, which is not conducive to forward planning,” he continued.
“The police are constantly being asked to do more with less, and the mission of the police is to ‘keep people safe’. This expands the scope of their activities far beyond the fight against crime, and requires a conversation with other services of the “blue light” about the division of labor.
“Now we need the political parties to come together at a round table and discuss a program for the government before the formation of the executive branch, where we can agree on a budget for the police as part of a holistic approach. It is a matter of concern that the three-year budget allocated to the Ministry of Justice was one of the worst outcomes of the tender process. Questions should be directed to Attorney General Naomi Long and her department.”
The Justice Department asked for an answer.