Alex Maskey: “I find it truly disrespectful that he decided to make the announcement at a public session…”

I didn’t see any immediate reaction from Sinn Féin to the Chief Constable’s announcement on Thursday that 150 officers would be redeployed to guard police stations in light of the increased threat from republican paramilitary groups.

But Matt Baggott’s reported comments at Saturday’s UUP conference – that the reductions in police numbers from 13,000 to 7,000 was done too quickly – appear to have struck a nerve.

The BBC reports that Sinn Féin MLA, and Northern Ireland Policing Board member, Alex Maskey, “has disagreed with the chief constable’s assessment that police numbers were reduced too quickly following the paramilitary ceasefires”.

“The police service is a sizeable organisation. The police have always said this to their own credit and have acknowledged that they have a lot of reform yet to complete,” [Alex Maskey] said.

“The police service has enough officers and their difficulty is that they have not yet managed how best to use their personnel.”

And in his released statement the Sinn Féin MLA took the opportunity to criticise the previous announcement

Speaking this evening Mr Maskey said;

“Firstly I would remind Matt Baggott that it is his job to implement the necessary changes which were required to policing here and secured under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

“The notion that moving 150 officers from frontline duty, out of communities and into guarding stations is madness.

“It is particularly unacceptable when you consider Matt Baggott made the commitment to get 600 officers back on the ground dealing with the issues people are truly concerned about, crime and community safety.

“I find it truly disrespectful that he decided to make the announcement at a public session of the Policing Board without consulting members first.”

Well, it is an operational decision.  And it’s not as if Matt Baggott hadn’t already proposed an alternative.  But you wanted a private briefing first…

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  • “The PSNI already have enough personnel”

    Perhaps Alex Maskey was asleep when the number of full time officers dropped below the Patten peacetime figure of 7500 officers and students were included in the full time figure. He may also have been asleep when the Patten rank comparative figures were dropped from PSNI manpower statistics at the beginning of this year.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Looks like poor judgement from Matty. Being English should obvioulsy never disqualify someone from this job but you would imagine they would make the effort to make up for their lack of local nous.

  • joeCanuck

    How far we have come is well illustrated by this SF complaint that there aren’t enough police officers on the streets. Well done Alex.

  • becky

    truly disrespectful…..the cheek of him and him running up and down to stormont in some ones D.L.A car

  • Cynic

    “making the announcement at a public session”

    Yes…far better to have raised it behind closed doors where the DUP / SF Cabal could have done a wee backstairs deal on it and the Chief Constable told to shut up if he knew what was good for him. We don’t want any of that open debate here!!!!

    But there might be more for front-line duties if:

    1 SF didn’t keep calling for more and more enquiries and spending millions of the police budget on searching for documents

    2 their former PIRA colleagues weren’t working with dissidents to plan a new campaign and, from all reports, leaking some of those weapons that strangely seem to have escaped the decommissioning process

  • aquifer

    Alex should try hitting a legitimate non-soft target, like the Police Authority members who prevented Matty using private security contractors to guard stations.

    Looks like he prefers hitting punch bags to getting into the ring these days. Those two bouts against big Alastair must have shaken him up.

  • If it comes to a straight choice between placing my trust in effective policing with either Matt Baggott or Alex Maskey then it’s not really a contest. I can’t imagine it would be for anyone who can approach things without prejudice.