Changes to the way Gilford is to be policed are ‘very alarming for residents throughout the village’.
That was the message from the Chairman of Gilford Residents Group Timothy Mayes, reacting to news patrol officers from Banbridge police station are to be removed and instead based in Lurgan and Armagh.
Mr Mayes said: “Gilford Concerned Residents Group has worked very well with the local neighbourhood policing team over recent years and there has been much success in tackling crime in the area.
“However, these latest developments are very alarming for residents right throughout the village of Gilford. There are serious doubts that in the near future local police may just not have the capacity to fully deal with incidents in the area. Statistically, Gilford has very few crimes recorded and we in the village want to keep it that way.“
Local DUP MLA Sydney Anderson, expressed major concern over the move - set to take place from October.
He also expressed concern on the knock-on effect it would have - leaving resources across the area stretched.
Mr Anderson stated, “Under the new arrangements that are being brought forward the present Neighbourhood policing arrangement for Banbridge District will be replaced by officers based in Lurgan and Armagh with Banbridge Police Station becoming an operational command and administration centre.
“This news is a devastating blow to all in the community and the only people who will benefit from such a development is those individuals who are intent on committing criminal acts and hurting our local communities.”
Mr Anderson continued by stating, “In recent times I have highlighted concerns with a range of criminal acts across the Banbridge area.”
He went on; “The decision to remove patrol officers from Banbridge will definitely not help the fight against crime, instead there is a severe risk that criminal activity could increase. Although the area will be policed by neighbourhood teams based in Lurgan and Armagh this is simply still not good enough and in fact policing resources will actually become further stretched right across the Upper Bann constituency.
“Back in March of this year I and my party colleagues David Simpson MP and Stephen Moutray MLA met with senior officers at Police Headquarters to express our grave concerns about these upcoming changes. I am unaware if these concerns have been given due consideration. I and my colleagues plan to meet with the PSNI in the very near future to express our serious concerns and also those of the community about these proposed developments.”
Police have released a statement, saying officers will be available 24/7 in the local area.
“The intention is that they will not simply attend calls but will build up an enhanced knowledge of the areas they serve,” a spokesman said