Station closure ‘will not affect front line services’

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THE proposed closure of Brownlow police station will not affect front line services, it has been claimed.

Area Commander Anthony McNally made the comments at last week’s meeting of the Craigavon District Policing Partnership.

The DUP’s Alderman Stephen Moutray expressed concern that Lurgan police station would be “left to serve a population of 92,000”.

“I would view this situation as totally unacceptable,” he said.

However, the PSNI were keen to stress that no decision has yet been taken on the issue.

Area Commander Chief Inspector Anthony McNally said if the station was to close the impact would be small.

“It would not influence how Brownlow is policed,” he said.

“Just because there are no bricks and mortar there, that doesn’t mean my officers will stop providing a service for the community.”

Independent DPP member Brendan Curran, who is also a Sinn Fein councillor in Banbridge, pointed out that the station is only open for a few hours each day.

He said: “As someone who lives in Brownlow, I can tell you people in the area do not get hung up on the station. Indeed, many believe it is closed already.”

It was announced last week that the PSNI plan to shut around 40% of their stations in Northern Ireland.

Public consultation on proposed station closures will begin in the new year.

E District Commander, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson, said he wants the public to have a say on how policing is delivered.

“We want to ensure that policing is at the heart of communities, when and where it is needed,” he said.

“Over the past number of years we have been able to double the number of officers in neighbourhood policing and we know that this provides the personal service that the public want.

“We need to find ways to enhance this approach whilst delivering the best value for money.”

Mr Robinson added: “We will not speculate at this stage about what may happen but will take time over the coming months to work with you to make the decisions that will be most beneficial to your community.”

Speaking earlier this week on the news, SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said she was “not convinced” that fewer stations would mean better policing.

“There is a serious question of community confidence raised by these plans,” said Mrs Kelly.

“I am not convinced that fewer stations will equal better policing – particularly in rural areas where these closures will hit hardest.

“People want to see more police on the beat. They want to have confidence in the police and they want to see the PSNI meet its commitments on increasing community policing.

“The PSNI has neither explained nor demonstrated how plans to cut the number of stations will contribute positively to any of these perfectly reasonable public expectations.”

She added: “They cannot expect a much-needed strengthening of community confidence if they put that community out of mind when budgeting for the future.”