27/08/2009

Gillespie Defends Damning PSNI Report

Administrative functions carried out by the North's police officers are to be reviewed.

The Province's second highest ranking police officer has said an action plan is in place to cut down on bureaucracy within the service.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie conceded changes are needed to ensure more officers are involved in frontline policing.

DCC Gillespie was responding to a leaked report, which suggested 61% of officers spent their time in stations dealing with administration work.

Ms Gillespie acknowledged too many officers are tied up with bureaucratic duties, but said an action plan was underway to address the issue.

"I would think that, in the weeks and months ahead, people will see changes were we will see officers moved out of admin functions and into frontline services," she said.

According to the 'restricted' report, only intended for PSNI personnel, Northern Ireland is not receiving "an effective 24-hour policing service".

The frankly worded document, which forms part of senior command's five year strategic view for the force, said officers were not deployed when and where needed.

"There is little evidence of the PSNI having an over-arching crime prevention strategy," the report stated.

Fighting the causes of crime was being hampered by "insufficient information", senior officers suggested.

A growing "9 to 5 culture" had emerged within the force, which the report said should be revised.

It was also indicated that the number of PSNI officers could be reduced by 500, from the current level of 7500, due to budget cuts.

Issues raised within the report will be discussed at the next Northern Ireland Policing Board meeting.

UUP MLA and NI Policing Board member Basil McCrea said there was a sense fewer officers are 'on the beat'.

"This is not really a critique of the police but the environment we put the police into," he said.

"If we put them into a compliance orientated culture where there is more emphasis being placed on filling in forms about crime than actually solving crime - this is a challenge to society and the oversight bodies, not just to the police."

The SDLP Policing Spokesperson Alex Attwood said the leaked report should as "a catalyst for a new phase of deep reform" to policing.

"The problem is not the demands of oversight and accountability as some claim. The problem is reluctance by some within the police service to agree the changes and strategies that get officers behind desks out onto the ground.

"This resistance must be acknowledged and firmly addressed," he said.

Mr Attwood said the timing of this report is "no coincidence", claiming some political and policing elements who want "to do damage" to outgoing PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

"No-one should doubt what the motivation of some has been in leaking this document and no-one should give any comfort to those who still can’t live with Patten or the many changes in policing over the last seven years."

(PR/GK)

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