PSNI budget could become impossible, says Byrne

time:2023-06-02 16:29:07source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center5

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) budget has the potential to become impossible to manage, Chief Constable Simon Byrne has said.

He said the force was facing a funding gap of £141m.

As well as savings through reduced officer numbers, Mr Byrne thinks cutbacks could result in closing police stations and grounding officers.

He laid out a bleak financial picture in his monthly report to the Policing Board.

Reducing his number of officers to 6,459 by next March, from the current 6,675, would help to close the gap to about £85m.

"In my view it is simply not possible to reduce our cost base by this amount," he wrote.

The PSNI receives the vast majority of its funding from Stormont's Department of Justice.

Mr Byrne said he had been engaging with its permanent secretary and others to "stress the significance of the challenges we face".

He pointed out that the budget problems are occurring at a time when the terrorist threat level in Northern Ireland has been raised to severe.

"The main focus of attacks continue to be police officers and we assess an increase in their intent and capability to cause serious harm in the next six months," he said.

"With the reduced resources available I have grave concerns about the level of threat, risk and harm facing communities."

The Department of Justice has yet to inform the PSNI of its precise funding allocation for 2023-24.

It is normally in the region of £750m.

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