THE head of the the PSNI’s rank-and-file police union has launched a savage attack on Chief Constable Matt Baggott and his high command.
Police Federation Chairman Terry Spence pulled no punches today when he described Mr Baggott’s riot policy as “rudderless” which had failed to protect the safety of front line officers.
It made uncomfortable listening for Mr Baggott today as he heard Mr Spence lambast the PSNI at the Federation’s annual conference.
He says the PSNI’s senior command team did not do enough to prevent officers being injured during violent street disorder.
Mr Spence told his audience that 50 officers were suffering life-threatening Second Impact Syndrome (SIS).
“They should be treated the same as those injured in close-contact sports.”
As a result, the Police Federation has lodged a formal complaint with the Health and Safety Executive.
He said that 820 officers were injured on duty last year during flag protests and violence which he said was “orchestrated by the UVF and the UDA”.
He said they had been left “feeling isolated and rudderless”.
Mr Spence said: “Those in command who dither need to understand that the safety of officers is being jeopardised while those same officers struggle to prevent anarchy on our streets.”
He added: “The delayed authorisation on the deployment and use of necessary protective measures, such as AEPs (attenuated energy projectiles) and water cannon, are the major reasons for the shocking injury toll.
“Whenever officers call for the deployment and use of AEPs, that request must be granted without delay.
“The Health and Safety Executive made that position very clear, following a previous complaint we lodged with them in 2005.”
He also criticised the fact that officers forced to move home are forced to bring negative equity with them.
“Practical help must be forthcoming to assist police officers who are servants of the State.
“There is something inherently and morally wrong with this system,” added Mr Spence.
As the PSNI today launched a new recruitment campaign, Mr Spence said the force needed to employ an extra 1,000 officers.
He said that drafting in officers from England, Wales and Scotland was “just a sticking plaster” which had not worked.
Members heard him praise the work of the Gardai in their cross border assistance in helping to thwart the activities of dissident republicans who were hellbent on misery and trying to drag Northern Ireland back to the dark days of the trouble.
“Let’s help to make them fail,” said Mr Spence QPM.