(CNS): Police Commissioner Derek Byrne has become the latest leader of the RCIPS to point to the “skills gap” among officers working for the service. For more than a decade, almost every commissioner that has come from overseas has highlighted competency issues and the need to “professionalise” the service. CoP Byrne said that when it comes to child protection in particular the service has prioritised the need to close the critical skills gap. He said three child protection experts have been brought in and training is being delivered to create a “fit-for-purpose” child protection unit.
Speaking at a press conference Friday to present the annual crime statistics for 2016, Byrne said his officers had enjoyed some real success in dealing with high-profile crimes but he has been looking at how resources are being used in the service at present and whether he needs more officers. He said after that assessment, the goal was to look at the “critical skills gaps”.
“I am not in position to say that I need loads more personnel at the moment. What I have to do is justify the people I have in office and that I am using them to optima, and I am working through that process with the senior command team to make sure that everybody is doing what they should be doing,” he said. “Where there are critical skills gaps, then we will seek to close them down,” he added.
The commissioner said that since his arrival in November, he has had chance to look around and has seen some great work being done by many officers in the RCIPS. There are “some top-class people”, he said, but he has seen “the capacity to build competency”. He said that “training was a big issue” and the service needed to be professionalised.
Byrne said he was working on a comprehensive report for the governor, which will be presented to government to inform the future direction of the police service. But he pointed to the marine unit, where there are resource shortages and skills gaps, and he said that would be one of the first areas that he wanted to see get more investment.