The Chief Constable Simon Byrne attended his first Northern Ireland Policing Board meeting today, Thursday 5th September.
During the meeting, he outlined his plans for the future of the Police Service and announced his intention to increase the number of officers dedicated to Neighbourhood policing across Northern Ireland by 400 officers. It is hoped this could be achieved by 31 March 2020. He also discussed a full review of the current uniform and protective equipment and highlighted how the police service can be more accessible to the community.
Speaking at the Policing Board meeting, Chief Constable Byrne said: “When I was appointed I explained that I wanted to make the PSNI more accessible, visible and responsive. I want to build on community confidence and recognise that visible officers are an essential building block to do that. Therefore I am delighted today to announce an additional 400 officers dedicated to neighbourhood policing across Northern Ireland, one assigned to each district electoral ward with additional capacity in those wards requiring prioritisation. 190 of these posts will be resourced by EU Exit related funding and the remaining 210 from reprioritisation within our District Policing Command.
“The 400 dedicated Neighbourhood officers will provide us with a great opportunity to focus on our future and deliver additional resources to improve policing within the community. I want local communities to have a designated point of contact to help with local concerns at a local level.
“On the uniform review, I want to ensure our officers present a modern image to the community, whilst being afforded adequate protective measures for the everyday risks they face. I will ensure that as part of the review, consultation takes place with our staff associations, statutory partners, stakeholders and the public before any final decisions are made.
“In seeking to make our Service as accessible as possible it is essential we have multiple channels of contact available to the public. I will also be commissioning a review of how this can be improved. The most pressing priority for me is to ensure that anyone calling the 999 or 101 numbers has confidence their call will be answered promptly.
“During July and August, we received 131,430 calls for service and our answering times for 101 calls from the public have improved significantly as a result of an uplift in resources within our Contact Management Centres. Earlier this year we introduced a new Command and Control software system, this has now bedded in and has also contributed to an increase in our performance.
The Chief Constable concluded “Over the past two months I have met with many officers and staff across the Service. I will continue to engage with them over the coming months to ensure officers and staff know that as an organisation we care, we act and we listen to their views.”