The PSNI has assured the public that safety is their ‘main priority’ after concerns were raised by DUP MLA Sydney Anderson about policing changes.
Mr Anderson said that he had received calls from locals who were anxious about the consequences of these changes across the borough.
“We are all aware of the new Local Policing Teams being put in place as part of major PSNI operational changes,” said Mr Anderson. “I have been contacted by sources who expressed their serious concerns of what these new policing arrangements will allegedly mean for the Upper Bann area. These new teams are to work with a full set-up of five sections, with two sections being on duty at any one time. The information I have received means that, at any one time, there will be 10 sergeants and 92 constables covering the area. On average there will be only one police constable to serve approximately 2,200 people. I will seek a meeting with the PSNI to highlight my serious concerns about these new operating structures.”
ABC Area Commander, Superintendent Davy Moore, responded, “I understand the concerns expressed by local politicians and communities, however, the changes within policing have not happened overnight and have taken many months to put in place. We have been open and transparent about the changes taking place and this is how policing is now delivered across Northern Ireland. We have not made these changes on a whim. We have had to change the way we do business because of ongoing budget cuts and decreasing officer numbers. These factors are not likely to change.
“In delivering these changes, we have used the opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to the principles of policing with the community. The old style of using Neighbourhood Policing Teams in every locality was becoming unsustainable, and it only offered that style of policing when the limited numbers of officers available to those teams were actually on duty. It also failed to harness the considerable pool of talent available elsewhere in the command, which will now be enabled to make a much greater contribution to proactive, engagement-based, problem-solving policing. This contribution will be available to the community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“I welcome feedback from the local community however now is the time for looking forward and finding new ways of working together to ensure our new policing arrangements are successful. The reality is that policing is changing, but our policing purpose remains the same - to provide community based policing.
“Keeping people safe is still our main priority and we will continue to do this by preventing harm, protecting the vulnerable and detecting offenders.”