Community policing ‘must be protected’

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The new policing partnership covering the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area has been hit with a massive budget cut - just as it gets started

Sinn Féin Cllr Máire Cairns, a PCSP (Policing and Community Safety Partnership) member, has expressed concern that the budget has been cut by 50% by Justice Minister David Ford.

Cllr Cairns commented: “It is alarming that in the infancy of this new PCSP, the budget would be cut dramatically to just over £200,000.

“The partnership works collaboratively to deal effectively with policing issues in the community.

“This slashing of the budget will unfortunately impact on the projects the partnership will be able to deliver.”

Ms Cairns concluded: “The PCSP is a crucial mechanism in ensuring both accountable policing and also community policing. It is paramount that accountable, community policing isn’t sacrificed because the Minister is facing budgetary constraints.”

A Department of Justice spokesman said: “Policing & Community Safety Partnerships are jointly funded by the Department of Justice and the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB). Due to the current financial uncertainty facing all departments, and until there is more certainty around the in-year budget position, 50% of the original PCSP 2015/16 indicative budget has been allocated.

“DOJ and NIPB officials are working with Council chief executives and PCSPs to help ensure that the funding made available to PCSPs is used to best effect.”