Northern Ireland news

Officers unhappy with PSNI 'should raise concerns with Policing Board via Police Federation'

The memorial to victims of a 1992 loyalist attack on Sean Graham bookmaker's shop in south Belfast. Five people, including a 15-year-old boy, were murdered in the UDA gun attack. Picture by Mal McCann

PSNI officers who are unhappy with the culture within the force should ask the Police Federation to raise any issues with the Policing Board, Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt has said.

The Irish News reported yesterday that there is discontent among some Catholic officers. One officer was speaking in the wake of events at a commemoration on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast on Friday.

Mark Sykes, who survived the 1992 Sean Graham bookmaker's shop atrocity, was arrested at a commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the UDA attack.

A Catholic officer, who did not want to be named for security reasons, told The Irish News yesterday: "For the first time ever since I started, I feel shame and regret and maybe trying to change things from the inside is a pointless endeavour".

Around 32 per cent of PSNI officers are drawn from the nationalist community.

The UUP's Policing Board representative Mike Nesbitt said: "What happened on the Ormeau Road on Friday was deeply regrettable and raises questions for the officers on the ground, their superiors and the event organisers.

"But what is clear is that it came about because of the size of the crowd, not because of anyone's religious or political beliefs.

"If officers have concerns about the culture within the PSNI, they should ask the Police Federation to raise those issues with the Policing Board. The Board has just appointed a Chief Operating Officer for the PSNI.

"A recruitment process is underway to secure a Director of People and Organisational Development, so there is clear evidence of the commitment to ensure the police service is both reflective of the community it serves and also fit for purpose."

UUP MLA and the party's Policing Board representative Mike Nesbitt. Picture by Mark Marlow.

Alliance MLA John Blair said: "There are a number of accountability structures in place for police officers to express discontent or concern. If any officers, individual or as a collective, feel this, we would encourage them to use them.

"It is vital the PSNI is representative of all of our society and all parties show support for it, support which should not be conditional on individual incidents or events.

"In addition, all police officers must be treated as impartial professionals, without labels being attached to them."

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