PSNI to cut equivalent of full district

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton

The Justice Minister David Ford says it’s up to the Chief Constable, George Hamilton, to decide where the axe falls as he bids to make over £50m in savings this year.

The Minister was quizzed about the substantial reduction by the UUP MLA Danny Kinahan.

“The PSNI need to make savings of £51.4m in year. I have discussed this with the Chief Constable on two separate occasions, in late September and at the beginning of October,” said Mr Ford.

“I also discussed this with the Policing Board, most recently at a meeting with the chair, vice chair and independent members of the Policing Board in early October,” he added.

“The allocation of the police budget is an operational matter and therefore the responsibility of the Chief Constable who is accountable to the Policing Board. It is not for me,” Mr Ford declared.

Referring to the £50m in cuts at the Justice Committee last month Mr Hamilton said: “To try to give that some context, that is £5 million more than it takes to run our largest policing district for a year.

“You will have seen the media coverage last week of the release of over 300 temporary workers, so let me give that some context.

“The release of those temporary workers will reduce costs by £2·1 million, while the total amount that we need to reduce in year is £51·4 million.

“So it has an impact on the individuals, but it is a drop in the ocean of the savings that we need to achieve.”

“Since I was appointed chief constable, I have been asked to deliver, first, 1.5 per cent cuts, and then to plan for three per cent, four per cent and five per cent cuts.

“I am unable to provide a full assurance that the PSNI can deliver the required budget reductions and live within the revised budget.”