Police professional | PSNI continues to face ‘significant financial challenges’, police chief warns

PSNI continues to face ‘significant financial challenges’, police chief warns

The Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has warned that the prospect of a “worsening” financial situation could have a “direct impact on staffing and services to communities”.

Sep 5, 2022

By Paul Jacques

Chief Constable Simon Byrne

In his latest accountability report to the Northern Ireland Police Board (NIPB), Simon Byrne said the PSNI continues to face “significant financial challenges” in the current year.

“At the end of July our projected pressure for the full year increased to £34m,” he said. “This reflects recent unplanned developments in our resource plan, which were based on a range of assumed funding streams and a schedule of planned reductions.

“That includes the likelihood of a 5% average compensation and ever-increasing utility costs. These two issues alone account for £22m of the projected financial gap.

Mr Byrne added: “We are increasingly concerned about the financial shortfall, the lack of clarity in budgets and the shortening of timelines to take the limited mitigation measures available.

“While this is an issue shared by many public services, the police department has asked the Department for guidance as practical action will need to be taken as soon as possible.

“The prospect of entering next year in a similar or deteriorating position is alarming and will no doubt have a direct impact on workforce and community services.”

Mr Byrne’s concerns come after the NIPB chairman said officers may have to “prioritize responses to particular incidents” due to budgetary pressures.

In his foreword to the NIPB’s annual report and accounts published last month, Doug Garrett, chairman of the Police Board of Northern Ireland, said that while the PSNI has a “significant resource”, the board s concerned about “the ability of the service to meet policing demand in an environment where budgetary pressures will potentially lead to a reduction in the number of officers”.

This is despite “new decade, new approach” commitments for a 7,500-officer strength, he said.

Mr Byrne has previously warned that the PSNI will have to ‘prioritize resources and work smarter’ to deal with a difficult financial situation which was ‘worrying’.

On Saturday 24 September, the PSNI is hosting an event at the Police College to celebrate 100 years of policing in Northern Ireland. The PSNI said the police chief will be joined by “the extended police family, colleagues and partners in recognizing this very important milestone”. A program of speakers, music and outdoor exhibits will mark the occasion.

The following day (September 25), Northern Ireland will host National Police Memorial Day in Belfast.

“This is an important date in the policing calendar when we will join colleagues across the UK in remembering police officers who have been killed or died on duty and in recognizing dedication to duty and the courage displayed by all police officers,” Mr Byrne said.