PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne backtracks on rebranding

By Julian O'Neill
BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent

  • Published
NEW CRESTImage source, PSNI
Image caption,
The proposed new PSNI branding was unveiled publicly on Friday

The PSNI's chief constable has backtracked on a proposal to "tinker" with the force's badge on uniforms, admitting the idea "is a non-starter."

As part of a branding refresh, Simon Byrne had publicly floated the idea of a modified emblem on Friday.

It would have removed the words Police Service Northern Ireland from the badge used on signs, vehicles and uniforms.

Unionist parties and the Police Federation had all come out against the idea.

Mr Byrne said it was not "Einstein territory" to realise "there is no point in taking the proposal forward".

It will now not form part of a public consultation of "modernising" the look of the PSNI.

Despite the opposition from unionist politicians and the Police Federation, Mr Byrne said there had been "no adverse reaction" in prior background briefings with them.

Image source, PSNI
Image caption,
Police vehicles with the new proposed branding

"Clearly, there's no point trying to push the ball uphill when we've got other priorities," Mr Byrne told BBC News NI.

"I don't think it was a mistake because if you're going to move on and be progressive you've got to test new ideas.

"So I think we close this issue down and keep the eye on the big prize, which is improving community policing."

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On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Byrne issued a statement on the issue on social media.

"I want to move away from the use of the acronym PSNI and focus more on the word police," he said.

"We will continue with our plans to launch our public consultation later this year and would welcome the feedback and contribution from all our communities to help shape the look and feel of the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

Image source, PAcemaker
Image caption,
Simon Byrne said there was "no point trying to push the ball uphill" on the issue

It said it was aware some officers had expressed concern about the removal of the name.

The federation said it would convey this view during the formal consultation and implementation phase.

The Ulster Unionist Party said any change to the branding must be carefully explained.

"We need to know why a change is being proposed and what the rationale is behind it," a spokesperson said.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said neither the PSNI crest, nor the name Police Service of Northern Ireland, could be changed by consultation.

"Both of those are established in law and would require legislative change if anything was to come about," she said.

"What the chief constable has informed me is that he wants to make police service more prominent, rather than PSNI, because he doesn't think that's as recognisable, particularly for visitors here."