The body representing nearly 7,000 rank and file police officers has warned of dire consequences if ‘fairly brutal’ budget cuts go ahead.
In August, Chief Constable George Hamilton confirmed the PSNI is planning for budget cuts of up to six per cent - totalling around £40.5 million.
Police Federation for Northern Ireland chairman Mark Lindsay urged ministers to reconsider, warning that calls to police may go unanswered if there aren’t enough officers.
“We’ve heard about imminent cuts but there’s now time to reconsider what amounts to fairly brutal financial ‘surgery’,” he said.
Mr Lindsay continued: “We’ve seen instances of deteriorating levels of service, and they are primarily due to resource issues. Put simply, if there aren’t enough officers, then the ability to combat crime, and attend domestic incidents and accidents will be further impaired.
“If service levels are below what they should be, and what the public has a right to expect, then they can only get worse if adequate funding is denied.
“The men and women in the PSNI don’t want that to happen. They’re dedicated and committed – in many instances, working for free – but there is a breaking point and it’s fast approaching.
“Ministers need to be aware of the consequences of what they are doing. And when there are deficiencies and shortcomings, the public must realise that it isn’t the fault of the police whenever their calls go unanswered.
“Despite the cuts, every effort will be made to protect the wider community. However, gaps will emerge, and it will have to be ministers, and not the police, who will have to answer to the public .”