PSNI needs recruitment drives says Terry Spence

Terry Spence was featured on Radio 4’s Saturday PM news show and he aired some serious concerns about the ability of the Police Service of Northern to hold the peace in the context of continuing violence.

His concerns were not about the manner in which the police have been confronting the rising violence, but about the ability of the police going forward in terms of numbers and resources to deal with the growing two-pronged threat profile.

He noted that over the last 4 weeks since the flags decision the police have been under huge strain. 70 police officers have been injured and many of them have required hospital treatment.

As we look forward it isn’t hard to imagine that the casualty list will grow. And with the news that gun shots were fired over the weekend it certainly isn’t hard to imagine that a serving officer or civilian could be killed.

Stuck in a nutcracker situation between growing violence from dissident republicans and unionist paramilitaries the police are unquestionably under immense pressure.

In this context the chairman of the Police Federation said on BBC Radio 4:

“There is an obligation on the state and the Chief Constable to ensure that the police service are properly resourced. It is the firm belief of my organisation that that is not the case.”

“We need more human resources. We need more young men and woman to join the police service. We need a recruitment campaign to be instigated forthwith. We’re already down to 7,000 police officers from a figure of 12,500 figure that we had ten years ago. We do not have the perfect peace that was envisaged in the Patten recommendations or in the Good Friday Agreement and as I stated earlier, this is the most difficult policing situation that we have faced for the last decade.”

The presenter then asked: has politics failed this most difficult situation?

Terry Spence replied:

“Some of the NI politicians haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory over all of this. By foul means or otherwise they have unfortunately enticed people to come out onto the street. People have then come out onto the street and protested. These initially peaceful protests have been exploited by paramilitary organisations. Politicians should have realised the implications of all of this because they have been around Northern Ireland long enough.”

This obviously clashes with what Chief Constable Matt Baggot has on the riots and resources:

“You may be assured there will be sufficient resources in the event of more disorder for however long is necessary.”

Unfortunately as has long been the case in Northern Ireland the police have again found themselves stuck in the middle of serious community bickerings. When politics spills from the corridors to the streets the police have to mop it up. Let’s just hope it won’t be blood they’re mopping up.

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    We will have to hope that should there be a recruitment drive that none of those bloodthirsty Fenians get in as they are the ones being heavy handed with the loyal fleg protesters, well thats what leader of men, Jamie Bryson, Spokesman/not a spokesman of the UPF would have you believe.

  • David Crookes

    I wonder if the shared adversity of recent weeks will have the effect of binding the PSNI together, and strengthening its esprit de corps.

    MALCOLMX, I’d like to see how some of these ‘leaders of men’ would fare even in a local election. After the last election, when one of the paramilitary parties failed to get a seat in Stormont, there was some minatory talk about ‘the frustration that comes from not being represented’ expressing itself in violence.

    Maybe we should tke a leaf out of the old-time book, and give people in certain areas twenty-three votes each.

    It is clear that some of the aggrieved speakers on a recent #flegs video believed the PSNI to be an all-Protestant force.

  • Any Chief Constable would be caught between a rock and a hard place when the chickens come home to roost; the PR spinning top eventually falls over.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If there is a short term manpower problem it’s surely better handled by drafting in police from elsewhere in the UK.

    I’m already concerned the police are having trouble dealing with all this, they’re all working this on overtime so the point is going to be reached where they’re too exhausted to do it anymore.

  • Bishops Finger

    “As we look forward it isn’t hard to imagine that the casualty list will grow. And with the news that gun shots were fired over the weekend it certainly isn’t hard to imagine that a serving officer or civilian could be killed.”
    But,sure, according to Barney Rowan on Nolan, they weren’t live rounds. (And it was the Sloop John B that was played).
    Why should these people be pandered to and given credence by national broadcasters?
    BTW the Telegraph yesterday devoted 50 words to the Belfast Violence.

  • otto

    “If there is a short term manpower problem it’s surely better handled by drafting in police from elsewhere in the UK.”

    Or elsewhere on this island? Perhaps the Guards could help out along the border while we pull people into Belfast.


    It may help if the PSNI proactively dealt with these illegal road blockades as opposed to standing back and facilitating them while countless people are help back from going about their lawful business and while various business owners are suffering untold financial damage.

    The longer these bigoted sectarian BNP-NF-EDL alligned protesters get away with breaking the law the more they are their narrow minded sectarian agenda will hold decent people on all sides to ransom.

  • Mick Fealty


    Isn’t Terry’s job to ask for more jobs (and the CC’s to tell us no)? I thought his fingering of the UVF was a much more interesting aspect of that same interview. It clearly annoyed Billy H on Nolan who nonetheless had to admit that what Terry had said on the matter was substantially true.

    Malcolm, you are welcome here as anyone else. But we do buck people out for not paying attention to the substance of any argument. Email me privately ( if you have any questions, or read the commenting policy at the bottom of the page.

  • sherdy

    Possibly if Terry’s members were not so quick to fall about ‘injured’ in the interest of a holiday from duty, then there may be enough to man the barricades.


    Mick I thought given the link between the flegs issue, the recruitment call then the point I was making was valid, albeit in a somewhat humourous way.

    Ill attempt to better grasp the intricacies of slugger but having read slugger for quite a few years its not the worst case ive seen

  • BluesJazz

    The officers ‘injuries’ are on a par with those of Luis Suarez in the penalty box. Oh and writers cramp filling in the overtime sheets and texting on their iPhones.

    On the plus side, Orlando and Malaga should do well this year. Both cities could do with English taxpayers cash flooding in.

  • Red Lion

    BluesJazz did you see on the TV the police officers dazed, lying on the road and barely able to move after being injured during the riots??

    Hardly compares to taking a dive in the penalty box.

    Yeah and all those missiles, bricks, stones, debris, fireworks, petrol bombs being fired at them relentlessly, well its just like having a football floated over to you in the penalty box.

    Catch yourself on.

  • Old Mortality

    Trade union leader wants an increase in potential membership. Should we be surprised?

  • BluesJazz

    The Finlay Spratt school of ‘public service’ leaders. Along with Bumper Graham , bless ’em.
    Remember when the Fire Brigades Union went on strike several years ago, and the squaddies covering for them were bored shitless. The FBU had to retreat as a laughing stock.

    At least the PSNI are still able to cover the crime hotspot of Gibbs Island on Strangford Lough most weekends where at least 8 officers in 2 Mitsubishi jeeps are able to keep the illegal shooting of crows to a minimum.

    It’s tough out there.

  • aquifer

    Do we need a reserve force of Ex RUC stalwarts for occasional riot duty? They might make excellent road blocks, and their response to ‘shots fired’ may be ‘boring’.

    They should be allowed to make up their losses on local property investments and send their wives shopping somewhere nice, like Dublin city centre.

  • abucs

    Drafting in other police officers does seem to be the obvious response (if needed). Drafting them in from the south (if only in nationalist areas) seems a little provocative considering what the present protests are all about. It would probably serve to magnify the alienation felt by the protestors and could lead to a nasty response from some of them.