The Northern Ireland Policing Board has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2021-22, which contains an overview of the work of the Board and an assessment of the performance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) during the period 1 April 2021-31 March 2022. Writing in the Report’s foreword, Board Chair Doug Garrett reflects on the challenges for policing over the last year, progress made in a number of key areas and outlines future concerns on service resources. He said:
“2021-22 was another challenging year, with Covid-19 continuing to have an impact on the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) operations and service delivery. The policing approach to particular events during the course of the pandemic has influenced public perceptions of policing and efforts have been focused this year on engagement where relationships were affected.
National events and local incidents have also shaped public perception and confidence in policing. Following the murder of Sarah Everard, a focus has been brought to the culture within policing, professional standards, ethics and vetting arrangements for police officers. The Board had a series of discussions with the Chief Constable and his leadership team on measures being taken to create and sustain a working environment that provides equality for all, and assurance to the public that robust policies and procedures are in place to deal effectively with inappropriate behaviours.
Prior to Covid-19 the Board was concerned about sickness absence within the Service and commissioned independent research to explore opportunities to reduce, and improve the management of, sickness absence. Key findings from this research show opportunities for enhanced management as well as a need for continued investment in health and wellbeing support for officers, often working in a challenging operating environment, and one where assaults and attacks are increasing. In the last year, there were 1541 assaults on police officers, 909 of which resulted in injury. Attacks of any kind on our officers are not acceptable.
During 2021-22, the Board completed the restructure of the PSNI’s leadership team with 4 appointments made at Assistant Chief Officer and Assistant Chief Constable level. The Board looks forward to the strengthened leadership team driving transformational change across policing, and also continuing work to improve representativeness in the service.
Whilst the PSNI has remained resilient throughout the pandemic, it is clear that overall demand for policing services is rising and will likely surpass pre-Covid-19 levels. The Board is also mindful of new responsibilities for policing arising from various legislative changes being made. Latest crime figures published for the 2021-22 financial year show that there were 106,621 crimes recorded in Northern Ireland, an increase of 12,390 (13.1%) when compared with the previous 12 months. The level recorded in the latest 12 months is the highest in the last 12 years.
This Report contains an assessment of performance against the outcomes set out in the Annual Policing Plan and Performance Plan 2021-22. Taking account of the changing nature of crime, the PSNI and the Board has made significant inroads into establishing better baselines for a range of performance metrics and, with restrictions easing, is committed to improving the effectiveness of local policing with focus on retaining Neighbourhood Policing levels notwithstanding the budgetary pressures.
Policing has a significant resource available to it, but the Board has concerns around the ability of the service to meet policing demand in an environment where budgetary pressures will potentially result in a reduction in officer numbers, despite New Decade New Approach commitments to an establishment of 7,500 officers.
The Board has discussed at length the consequences of reducing numbers but also how budget pressures on other parts of the public sector will also likely have a knock on effect on demand on policing, and may well result in policing having to prioritise responses to particular incidents.”
For further information please contact the Board’s Communications Office on 028 90408541
1. A copy of the Report and the full foreword can be found on the Board’s website at:www.nipolicingboard.org.uk
2. The Board’s Annual Report and Accounts together with the Certificate and Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General for the period 1 April 2021- 31 March 2022 was laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly in accordance with paragraph 16 of schedule 1 to the Police (NI) Act 2000 as amended by the Police (NI) Act 2003 and Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions) Order 2010 on 11 August 2022.
Notes to Editors Ends