Why do Policing Board members need academic research?

�Mark Pearce/ Presseye
�Mark Pearce/ Presseye

We’re being taken for suckers.

Last week we heard two Policing Board members had paid relatives, from their official allowances, for academic research. It’s worrying that payments are going to relatives but it’s even more worrying that members think they need academic research.

Conall McDevitt, who has resigned from public life over only loosely connected matters, paid £16,000 directly to his wife, Dr Joanne Murphy for the last two years. Dr Murphy is a “policing reform expert.” Another Board member, Trevor Lunn, has also paid a relative for research.

Why do ordinary Board members need expensive research? Shouldn’t they be asking simple questions and getting simple answers. The PSNI are already brilliant at mumbo-jumbo management speak. They can talk a great game. It’s catching criminals they’re not so hot at.

Board members can ask as many complex questions as they like and get as many bamboozling answers as they like. That’s just a game. No matter how impressive the jargon sounds, it’ll make no difference to anti-social behaviour and crime.

The police don’t need more academic research. They need less. They don’t need more talk; they need more action. They need decent, committed officers trusted and expected to make common-sense decisions. They need results, “on the ground” as police officers say. If policing isn’t relatively simple; it should be.

The Policing Board isn’t responsible for clever social/police engineering. Members should ask simple questions and expect direct answers.