06 February 2020
DUP North Antrim MLA and Policing Board Member Mervyn Storey has pressed the Chief Constable to explain how he intends to address the current estimated £53 million funding gap projected for the annual PSNI budget in 2020/21.
Commenting at a public meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board on Thursday, Mr Storey said:
‘‘The projected £53 million gap in funding for the annual policing budget is a matter of great concern. A well-resourced, visible and responsive police service is vital in order to fight crime effectively and keep our communities safe.
It is imperative that moving forward the PSNI engages positively with the Department of Justice to secure necessary investment and put the police budget on a stable and secure footing in the longer-term. The Chief Constable is under an obligation to guarantee the safety of his officers first and foremost. Therefore, the greatest risk from cost-saving measures is toward ongoing recruitment.
Ultimately these financial challenges cannot be sustainably addressed without comprehensive investment in police resources and estates. It is absolutely unacceptable that many of our leading detectives fighting terrorism and organised crime are working from 180 portacabins located across the PSNI estate. We therefore support the Chief Constable’s vision of leading transformative changes to the PSNI to ensure it is well-resourced, adaptable and fit for the future. Increasing officer numbers can help negate the high cost of overtime and upgrading the police estate and digital infrastructures would lead to better rationalising of services and running costs.
This process of investment and reform will require careful and effective leadership. As a Party we will continue to work proactively with the PSNI and Executive Ministers to promote an adequately-resourced, dynamic and effective local police service to the benefit of every community.’’
Responding to confirmation by the PSNI that a viable device found attached to a lorry in Lurgan may have been intended for use in a terrorist attack coinciding with the UK exit from the EU on 31 January, Mr Storey said:
’I want to place on record our gratitude to the PSNI who successfully responded to intelligence received in relation to this device, disrupting a potentially deadly attack on the public.
This incident highlights not only the lasting threat of terrorism in Northern Ireland but the ongoing dedicated efforts of local police officers in taking on those who would seek to bring instability by vicious means.
Such activity was never justified forty years ago and isn’t justified today.’’