Alicia Clarke, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Westminster candidate for West Tyrone, has warned that the ongoing crisis in how the Police are funded must be resolved.

Alicia Clarke said:

“For months now the Ulster Unionist Party has highlighted the problems caused by manning levels in the PSNI and the impact that repeated budget cuts are having on the ability of the Police to protect and serve the community.

“Just last week it was confirmed that police numbers are to be cut by a further 238 over the next two years and I fully agree with the Police Federation Chairman Mark Lindsay that this is indeed ‘a frightening prospect.’

Within two years, numbers will fall to 6,600, significantly below the 7,000 figure which a 2014 review recommended, and an incredible 1,000 below the figure recommended by Patten.

“Furthermore, there is to be a £20m cut to the Police budget. The Chief Constable has said that since he took the job he has had to make cuts of £108m to his budget. This is little short of madness.

“There is no question that a crisis has been allowed to develop in police funding and for the sake of everyone in Northern Ireland, it must be resolved.

“West Tyrone is a large and mainly rural constituency. In addition to so-called ordinary crime, we also face ongoing difficulties due to ongoing dissident republican activity, particularly in the Strabane area.

“The public have watched on as police stations have been closed due to financial constraints and there have been widespread concerns at the lack of visible policing. The public want to see police on the ground as it makes them feel reassured and acts as a deterrent to criminals.

“The bottom line is that if the PSNI is going to be able to undertake the roles which society wants it to, then it must be properly resourced. Given that we as a society are still plagued with a serious terrorist threat in addition to ‘ordinary’ crime, it is quite frankly little short of madness to reduce numbers and cut budgets.

“I want to see the PSNI provided with the manpower and financial resources needed to combat crime and protect the people of Northern Ireland.”

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