THE newly formed Lurgan branch of the PUP has clashed with the PSNI over allegations that residents of Russell Drive are ‘living in fear due to a lack of police on the ground’.
PUP spokesperson Lexi Davidson told the Mail that residents are living in ‘a nightmare’ and no longer feel safe in their own homes.
Mr Davidson claimed police do not have adequate personnel on the ground.
“A week after the sickening robbery of a WW2 veteran in the Russell Drive area of Lurgan the community is left asking one question.” said Mr Davidson. “Where is the community policing we were promised?
“Over the past 14 months the residents of the area have found themselves living in what can only be described as a nightmare.
“Residents have stated to the PUP that since the callous murder of local man Andrew Lorimer, they no longer feel safe in their homes and that the police do not have adequate personnel on the ground.
“Elderly residents are living in fear as they have found themselves living next to what has become known locally as the ‘drugs flat’. Drug users are known to frequent this flat and in the past it has been the scene of altercations between dealers.
“On a positive note we would commend the Mourneview and Grey Estate Community Association who are currently undertaking the task of establishing a neighbourhood watch in the area. This is a group that is listening to the concerns of the community and trying to address their concerns.”
Mr Davidson added: “PSNI Craigavon Area Commander, Inspector Anthony McNally recently stated that the risk of becoming a victim of crime has reduced in the Hospital Estate by seven per cent. Inspector McNally may think his words are reassuring but the time for words has passed and the residents require action.
“We would ask the PSNI to honour their promise, listen to community concerns and let themselves be seen policing our communities.”
A PSNI spokesperson said police refute any suggestion that community policing is not being delivered.
“Police in Craigavon are available around the clock to address and discuss any concerns the local community may have,” said the spokesperson.
“As Mr Davidson has pointed out, Mourneview and Grey Estate Community Association have been working with local police to establish a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme and promote community safety within the area.”
Craigavon Area Commander, Chief Inspector Anthony McNally said: “It is entirely accurate that crime in Craigavon has decreased considerably over the last year - with a decrease more than double the PSNI average, so it is frustrating that the work of police officers out on the ground is being overlooked and dismissed as we work to develop community relationships and encourage partnership working.
“I have personally met with the Mourneview and Grey Community Association on several occasions and we are working in partnership to develop a youth engagement programme in the area. In relation to so called ‘drug flats’ - if Mr Davidson is aware of such locations he has a civic duty to provide such information to police.
“My door is open to all community and political respresentatives in Craigavon and, without as yet having met the PUP representatives to discuss these concerns, it is disappointing to hear of such remarks which deliver nothing to the wider community. I would therefore encourage anyone with concerns to contact me and look at ways we can work together to find solutions to local concerns and issues.”