You may remember the post from a few weeks ago revealing that the PSNI had spent over £2 million on firearms in the last five years (read it here). In the interest of fairness, and to put the cost of the PSNI’s firearms bill in context, I decided it would be pertinent to compare them with a force of a similar size – in this case, Greater Manchester Police. The comparison is not favourable to our local force.
A comparison of the two police services in the context of firearms spend and that of the other two items reported on previously, i.e. tasers and irritant sprays, is interesting.
The Greater Manchester Police is responsible for an area with a population of roughly 2.8 million people, dwarfing that of the PSNI with 1.8 million.
In terms of workforce, there are 6,872 police officers in Northern Ireland, compared with that of Manchester, at 6,303.
However, the spending by the two respective forces on firearms couldn’t be more different. In the years 2011-16, the PSNI spent £2.672 million on guns, whilst the GMP spent a fraction of that, spending £926,000.
When we look at tasers, the PSNI spent £90,000 in the period, whilst the GMP spent £860,000. The PSNI spent £235,000 on irritant sprays such as mace, whilst GMP spent only £100,000 in the period.
The total spend across all three of these categories shows the PSNI spent £2.997m from 2011-16 whilst the Greater Manchester force spent £1.886m
Given the obvious difference in lethal versus non-lethal resources (i.e. guns vs tasers/irritant sprays), the question must be asked, why is there such as propensity for the PSNI to focus on firearms?
It could reasonably be argued that this is due to the threat from paramilitary organisations locally, however it is also conceivable that those in Manchester could point out the threat to large population centres from Islamic extremism akin to attacks in Paris and Brussels.