THE Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, is warning that the PSNI could be reduced to a skeleton workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Lindsay said the PFNI was involved in planning at the highest levels but acknowledged that it was difficult to predict what would happen.
The PFNI leader called for adequate personal protection equipment to be made available including masks, gloves and scenes-of-crime white suits – “the basic stuff that is now difficult to obtain because of a worldwide shortage.”
Mr Lindsay also called for the immediate introduction of spit and bite guards to protect officers.
“We want to make sure that they are protected to do their job because the more people who do not report for work, the more people who isolate and the more people who become ill will actually put a great strain on society and the criminal justice system and, indeed, public health.
“In a situation where officers are expected to enforce emergency legislation, we are not as well-resourced as other parts of the UK. We do not have cadets. We do not have access to military, so, we are very much left on our own. It is, therefore, imperative that testing for police officers is brought in without any further delay. This will increase workforce resilience and will be a major factor in ensuring that our officers can remain at work.
“For years, we have been calling for the resourcing of the PSNI to be adequately looked at. In normal times, we are very stretched. Nobody knows what three or four weeks could do to our workforce. We could be left with a skeleton workforce trying to enforce legislation, trying to keep the lid on normal crime trends. It is very difficult to predict but I can assure the public that we will do our best. That’s what we are here for.”