1. ITV Report

NI police officer numbers hit new low

The PSNI is facing a crisis over staffing levels. Credit: UTV

Some calls to police in Northern Ireland could go unanswered as officer numbers reach crisis levels, the Police Federation has warned.

Police numbers have hit an all-time low and around 700 officers will be eligible to retire over the next year, but due to budget cuts, the PSNI is unable to hire new recruits to plug the gaps.

That means vital services could be adversely affected.

The Patten report recommended that 7,500 police officers were needed in Northern Ireland for a peace-time force.

The actual number of officers has fallen from 6,815 last year to 6,621.

And, as Deborah McAleese reports, PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton is to ask the government to fund an additional 400 officers for operations along the border after Brexit.

If that request is denied, it will put further strain on the police service, with officers having to be redeployed from their current roles to the border.