Good news for policing body

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The local Policing and Community Safety Partnership has been given a major funding boost following the reinstatement of money previously withdrawn from the budget.

Craigavon PCSP will receive a £146,346 share on the £1,5 million funding (9.8 per cent of the total).

Figures showing how the budget allocations were worked out show that the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council has the largest population outside Belfast while lying fourth in the deprivation index (with a score of 18 compared to Belfast with the highest deprivation score of 86, followed by Derry and Strabane Council on 40 and Newry, Mourne and Down on 19).

SDLP Upper Bann MLA and Policing Board member Dolores Kelly welcomed the move: “The initial removal of these funds caused great concern around public safety and that this decision has been reversed is very welcome news. This money will now be returned to local councils with the acute purpose of making communities safer.

“The work of the PCSP does much to relieve pressure on frontline police services by tackling social concerns such as domestic violence, drug abuse and antisocial behaviour.

“It should not have been seen as fair game for cuts by DOJ. The removal of funds to what is a cost-saving mechanism was an overtly counter-productive and bewildering move in the Ministers effort to save money.

“Unfortunately this misstep has left local councils with a very tight timeframe in which to allocate and spend the funds. While local councillors who make up the PCSP may already have an idea where the money is needed I would encourage them to engage with the public to discover where their concerns and the greatest need are.”

Alderman Carla Lockhart, speaking in her capacity as president of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, said the move was ‘an encouraging step forward’.

She added “In the future, it shouldn’t be a yearly struggle for survival of our PCSPs.”