Views sought on proposals to close police stations

Newry Times News Posted by
Monday, January 23rd, 2012

PSNI E District Commander, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson, is seeking the views of people across Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon and Newry and Mourne on proposals to close four police stations. Warrenpoint, Dromore, Keady and Brownlow are the four stations to be consulted on.

Chief Superintendent Robinson stressed that a final decision has not been made on any station. Speaking to Newry Times he explained, “People will be aware that we have been carrying out a major review of police buildings across the district. As part of that review I have had to look very closely at all of the stations in my district to ensure we are using all of our resources, including buildings, in the most effective and efficient way possible to provide the best service possible to everyone in E District.”

Robinson continued, “In Northern Ireland we have a pattern of police stations unlike any other part of the United Kingdom. The current police estate remains 70% bigger in comparison to other UK police services of comparable size. It reflects the demands of a very different era in policing. Policing in E District is central to the local community however, underused buildings do not contribute toward this but police officers and staff working in the local community does.”

“You are constantly engaging with us in different ways, from online reporting, to interaction through social media to contacting your local neighbourhood policing teams directly through telephone numbers provided on our website. As a result of this fewer people are visiting or using police stations.”

The latest in smartphone technology is also helping the PSNI as he explained. “The introduction of Blackberry smartphones for frontline police officers has reduced the need for officers to return to a police station to complete administrative tasks. This has already increased the amount of patrol time per officer per shift by over 15% – an extra hour per officer per shift is spent on the street, in your community. As with all other UK police services and publicly funded bodies, the PSNI has undertaken to deliver £135 million in efficiency savings back to the government over the next four years. As part of our agreed plan to deliver these savings we must deliver a £2.2million saving in the estate baseline budget in order to protect frontline staff and services. This means we cannot continue to fund the current size of our police estate.”

Chief Superintendent Robinson stated his commitment to listening to the views of the public, saying, “My command team and I want to listen to your views, the views of the communities we serve. I assure you that a decision to recommend the closure of any station is not taken lightly. I understand that some may take comfort in having a police station nearby however modern policing is about people, not buildings. I want to have a constructive debate with the people in the areas that Warrenpoint, Dromore, Keady and Brownlow serve about the way forward. I want to talk about how policing is currently delivered and how it will continue to be delivered if police stations are closed.”

Robinson added, “I encourage everyone with an interest of influence on policing to participate in the debate. In the weeks ahead we will inform you of opportunities to share your views.”

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