PSNI denies critical shortage of sex offender monitors in western area

Ch Supt George Clarke.
Ch Supt George Clarke.

The PSNI has denied claims a “critical incident” was recently declared due to an “acute shortage” of staff on a team that monitors sex offenders and violent offenders in the western district.

Chief Superintendent George Clarke, Head of the PSNI Public Protection Branch, which manages sex offenders in the community, has denied the claim, which was made by DUP MLA Maurice Morrow at Stormont.

In a question to the Justice Minister Claire Sugden, Mr Morrow asked “given the Critical Incident categorisation by PSNI due to an acute shortage of Public Protection Unit personnel in the Western District, what assurances she can give that agencies her Department, which work in conjunction with this unit, will remain functional and that public safety is not compromised.”

But Chief Superintendent Clarke said there was no “critical incident.”

“The PSNI is determined to keep people safe and in particular the response to vulnerable people when they are at risk,” he said.

“The Western Trust Public Protection Team is part of the PSNI’s service wide Public Protection Branch.

“Resourcing of this Branch and the teams within it are kept under constant review and adjusted as appropriate. “The PSNI has not declared a Critical Incident in this team,” he added.

In her answer to Mr Morrow’s query, the Justice Minister said: “The staffing of PSNI Public Protection Units across Northern Ireland is of course a matter for the Chief Constable.

“I am satisfied that the PSNI are working to ensure that operational capability in the Western District is maintained.

“Other relevant agencies, operating within the Public Protection Arrangements framework, continue to work in close cooperation with PSNI on assessing and managing the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in that District.”