SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly has said a failure to recruit enough new police officers will hurt local communities.
She was speaking after the PSNI had to postpone recruiting 85 new officers due to financial pressures.
Mrs Kelly said the New Decade, New Approach agreement (NDNA) pledge to increase the number of PSNI officers to 7,500 must be implemented.
Upper Bann MLA Mrs Kelly said:
“It is extremely concerning that the PSNI has had to pause plans to recruit 85 new police officers as a result of financial pressures. Given the current challenges our police service is facing we should be looking at increasing the number of officers, as outlined in NDNA. The PSNI are already stretched and a failure to adequately recruit new officers will only make the situation worse.
“We regularly see PSNI officers retire or leave the service early due to the pressures police face. Many suffer injuries in the course of the job and others struggle to deal with the trauma and PTSD that comes with serving as an officer. The nature of policing means that staff must be regularly replenished and by failing to replace these officers we won’t even be standing still in terms of numbers.
“If the PSNI is unable to recruit new officers we will see less boots on the ground and services will be affected. Police will become less visible in our communities and it take will take longer to respond to important calls outs and to process cases. While I have no doubt our police will do their best whatever the circumstances, a lack of resources will result in more things being missed and victims of crime will suffer as a result.
“We need to see a properly resourced and robust police force and I have been making that case for some time. The PSNI will suffer as a result of the 2% cut to departments put forward by Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy. Instead, our focus should be on supporting the PSNI to get to the 7,500 officers promised in NDNA and working from there to improve services to protect our communities and keep people safe.”