Northern Ireland news

Police Federation complain about confidence in Ombudsman's office

Chairman of the Police Federation Mark Lindsay

THE chairman of the Police Federation has used the organisation's annual conference to criticise the outgoing Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire, saying confidence in the watchdog's office was in "very short supply".

Mark Lindsay was addressing the federation's rank and file members yesterday at the organisation's annual conference.

As well as the relationship with the outgoing ombudsman, soon to be replaced with Marie Anderson, Mr Lindsay spoke about the ongoing dissident republican threat to officers, following the discovery of a booby trap bomb under the car of a senior PSNI officer in east Belfast last week.

"Within the past five days, dissident republican terrorists attempted to murder one of our colleagues at Shandon Park Golf Club," Mr Lindsay said.

"Here was an off-duty officer, a family man, singled out by people intent on causing anguish and pain and, of course, instilling fear amongst our colleagues and the wider community.

"The people who planned this attack; the people who made the device; who planted it; stole the vehicles, then set them on fire and helped manage their escape, (they) have absolutely nothing to offer.

"They are bankrupt, heartless, maniacs; politically irrelevant and deserving only of our condemnation", he added.

Former head of Cheshire Constabulary Simon Byrne will take over from chief constable George Hamilton when retires later this month.

Speaking about the change in leadership Mr Lindsay said: "Mr Byrne has a wealth of policing experience behind him and we look forward to working with him to deliver what's best for the wider community and our officers who serve the public."

He also added that "urgent investment" was required in the organisation, revealing a survey of its members found 92 per cent believed that morale across the PSNI was low, with more than 80 per cent of respondents claiming the organisation were under-resourced to meet policing demands.

"There are consequences when people have to consistently work under such unrelenting pressures, with the very real threat of punitive disciplinary action being taken if and when they get it wrong," Mr Lindsay said.

"In any other organisation or enterprise, this would set alarm bells ringing.

"Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the silence is deafening in some government departments."

Mr Lindsay said "urgent investment" was required in the organisation.

It follows his comments earlier this week that budget cuts to the police service were an issue.

"We will see more officers under stress and reporting sick," he said.

"More being injured on duty and more leaving for less demanding jobs", he added.

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