The PSNI has said it will be appointing about 450 student officers during 2017, after the Police Federation (PFNI) said that a gap in appointing new recruits would bring “risks”.
Mark Lindsay, PFNI, said in a statement that up to 200 officers will retire or leave by the end of June, “during which time there will be no replacements graduating from the Police College”.
He said: “Fifty-two student Officers graduated on Friday in the last ceremony of its kind for six months...
“Fewer officers will mean increased pressures on colleagues. More and more will be expected of them with knock-on consequences on their physical and mental wellbeing, and intolerable pressures on their families.
“In addition, we have seen the pressures manifest themselves in terms of service delivery.
“Neighbourhood policing has virtually disappeared from all but a few areas, with the result that officers are less visible to communities.”
In response on Sunday night, Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said in a statement that whilst the student officer training programme was suspended in August last year, the PSNI has now restarted appointing student officers from the existing merit list.
He added: “We expect to appoint approximately 450 student officers during this calendar year...
“We anticipate that a new recruitment competition will begin in April 2017.
“We remain committed to keeping people safe and we will continue to manage our resources and prioritise them against threat, risk and harm in line with our policing plan.”
He added: “The public can be reassured that policing operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we will continue to be there for people in their time of need.”