Page last updated at 08:03 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 09:03 UK

Phase-out of PSNI Reserve officers may be delayed

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott
Chief Constable Matt Baggott may ask reserve officers to stay on for nine months

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott may delay the phasing-out of its full-time reserve because of the escalation in the threat from dissident republicans.

More than 200 officers due to begin resettlement training in June could be asked to stay on for nine months.

Mr Baggott said in November he would press ahead with plans to phase out the full-time reserve by March 2011.

Part of the severance package included a nine-month resettlement training programme to help them find new jobs.

It is estimated that keeping the officers on would cost around £6m.

There are 100 officers currently taking part in that programme and the final 227 members of the reserve are due to join it in June to prepare them for losing their jobs in March next year.

It is understood the chief constable may ask them to defer their training for nine months and remain on duty until next March.

Sources said that postponing the phasing-out of the reserve is one of a number of options being considered to address the escalating dissident threat.

'Change of gear'

The DUP's Ian Paisley jnr said the chief constable had shown he could adapt to the security situation.

"Modern policing requires the chief of police and his top team to be flexible and they've shown flexibility in this," he said.

"There's been a change of gear by dissident republicans therefore there's been a response and an ability to adapt to those changing circumstances."

However, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey said the the reserve was not be kept on longer than envisaged.

"The full-time reserve are not being kept on any longer than what was previously agreed, so they will be gone, finished, part of the past by March 2011 and that's good news," he said.

"There is no delay as to when this element of the PSNI is actually wrapped up."

The SDLP's Alex Attwood also said people should appreciate that the move does not mean the full-time reserve is being retained indefinitely.

"There is a security situation and the response to that security situation isn't ultimately going to be determined by whether the full-time reserve stays for another nine months or not," he said.

"It will be determined by how many people across this island assist the Garda and and the PSNI with information in respect to what the dissidents are doing."

Ulster Unionist Billy Armstong said his party had suggested the move to the chief constable towards the end of last year.

"If you lived in mid-Ulster, you would know that the dissident threat was at a high rate and he accepted that dissident (activity) was on the increase and this has come through, that the dissidents have increased their attacks in the last six months," he said.

"With the high threat of dissidents we need men with expertise - full-time reserve men do have that expertise."



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