The Chair of the Newry Mourne & Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), the Ulster Unionist Councillor Alan Lewis, has said that a proposed cut to the current PCSP budget is unacceptable given that for the past two years the partnership has seen no rise in line with inflation.
His concerns relate to correspondence received from the Joint Committee which advises that PCSPs across Northern Ireland will potentially see a 2% reduction in their budget for the 2022/23 financial year. Each Partnership has been asked to consider this and amend the 2022/23 Action Plan and budget accordingly – for Newry Mourne and Down this means a cut of £8,159.50.
Councillor Lewis said:
“The Policing and Community Safety Partnerships across Northern Ireland are essential to community cohesion, creating and developing safe spaces in which communities impacted by crime, abuse or disorder can come together to work toward suitable and achievable solutions. Our work is backed by the organisational ability of experienced and dedicated staff. Any impact to service caused by a budget deficit would be detrimental to the safety and security of the entire community, impacting upon a wide range of projects.
“Our thematic areas for the year 2022/23 include, small grants, Drugs & Alcohol and Domestic Abuse, Community Safety & Vulnerability, Road Safety, Home Secure/Social Alarm Scheme, Crime Prevention and Confidence in Policing. Each of these themes have a small but significant budget and to diminish them further would be an abdication of responsibility. The cut will also impact upon core staffing costs and I am extremely worried with the instability of funding we could see experienced staff move on, some of whom are uniquely placed, carrying out vital work within the community from which they come.
“I would argue that this financial cut impacts the partnerships more than any other area as they have failed to benefit from any increase in line with inflation and over these past two years their budget has stagnated. When you do the sums, this is a net decrease as other costs have continued to rise. Is the Justice Minister asleep at the wheel?
“I sincerely hope Minister Long reconsiders. I am advised that today (Wednesday 16th February) PCSP regional managers are meeting with the policing board and DOJ, I note the concerns across all councils and hope that a suitable alternative can be suggested which protects the vital work and services of the Policing and Community Partnerships.”