THE Chairman of the Police Federation says raising the terrorist threat level in Great Britain to ‘substantial’ shows up the folly of operating with a below par complement of officers in Northern Ireland.
Mark Lindsay says the PSNI is currently 600 officers short of its envisage compliment under the Patten police reforms.
And PFNI chairman added the the force number should be cranked up to 8,500 in an effort to shut down dissident terror gangs.
In March, Adrian Ismay died a week after he was injured in under car booby trap bomb which detonated under this Volkswagen Transporter van in east Belfast.
Mr Lindsay said today: “MI5’s decision to move up to a position where there’s ‘a strong possibility’ of an attack by dissident republicans is a source of great concern.
“For some considerable time now, we’ve been at the higher threat level of ‘severe’, which means that the likelihood of an attack on our men and women is ‘highly likely’.
“It doesn’t make headline news, but our colleagues have thwarted innumerable attacks by dissidents.
“There is no let-up in the effort to put these murder gangs behind bars.
“In intelligence-led operations, planned attacks have had to be abandoned or gangs have been intercepted on their way to carrying out lethal attacks.
“There is constant work going on by a heavily under-staffed, inadequately resourced Police service.
“The PSNI is currently 600 below the peacetime figure envisaged under the Patten reforms.
“That means added strain on Officers who are having to work long hours with disrupted private lives to stay one step ahead of the bomber and gunman.
“Our resilience is less than what it should be. Six hundred more Officers in Northern Ireland would lead to even greater success against dissident republicans, reducing the prospect of them migrating to GB where the counter-terrorist effort has been focused on IS.
“It is now imperative that we move with speed to reach the peacetime figure of 7,500 Officers.
“In fact, if we are to achieve significant gains and inflict punishing reversals on dissidents, the Government should really be looking at a force strength of 8,500.
“To stop the threat migrating to GB, Ministers must now adopt a policy of ‘spend to save’.
“Far better we have the resources to do the job here before these terrorists can score a ‘spectacular’ on the mainland with all that that would involve for human life and, of course, the economy.
“The Government cannot afford to relax or take its eye off the ball. This threat level has to be tackled, and the most effective way of doing that is by equipping us with the appropriate staffing levels and resources,” added Mr Lindsay.