'point People 'must Reap Benefits Of Station Sell Off'

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

THE people of Warrenpoint must be the beneficiaries of the PSNI's decision to sell off the town's old police station.

That is according to Councillor Michael Carr, who said that since the building closed it's doors in 2011, police presence and visibility in the town has dropped significantly writes Martin McGuigan.

The SDLP Councillor believes that the council must be given first refusal on purchasing the property, to enable building work to commence on a long-awaited community centre.

Councillor Carr said: "There was much community disappointment when it was announced in Dec 2011 that Warrenpoint Police Station was to close.

"The PSNI argue that static buildings do not deliver a policing service and it is better to close stations and put officers on the ground. This argument may have some validity, but in a town with 8,000 residents a police presence is needed.

"We were advised back in 2011 that the Community Policing Teams would continue as normal. Unfortunately the relocating of these teams to Kilkeel, then Newcastle and on to Newry has shown a dramatic drop in service to Warrenpoint.

"Prior to moving neighbourhood officers, we would have bumped into them every day on the street, now it is only on rare occasions."

Cllr Carr believes that it is now time to deliver for the community of Warrenpoint, and said: "Now that the decision has been made to sell Warrenpoint Police Station, our council must have first refusal on acquiring it.

"The station in Charlotte Street has already been identified as the preferred location for a Community Hub in Warrenpoint, much preparatory work has already been carried out on this project and it is now time to move it up a gear and deliver for the people of Warrenpoint."

A spokesperson PSNI confirmed that efficiencies had to be made, but gave assurances to the public that policing levels wouldn't be compromised.

The spokesperson said: "The Police Service of Northern Ireland has made some key decisions in relation to the number of stations it requires to carry out its core role of Keeping People Safe, as well as ensuring the most efficient use of resources in light of continuing budget reductions.

“The strategy is regularly assessed and a review of estates was carried out last year as a result of the restructure within frontline policing to mirror the 11 new Council boundaries and significant financial pressures.

"This identified 12 stations which are no longer required to carry out daily policing business effectively. None of these stations are open to the public and there are no police officers or staff working in them."

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: "I'd like to reassure the public that these 12 stations are no longer being used by police operationally and formally disposing of them will save money, such as bills incurred from utility services."

District Commander Superintendent Paul Reid said: "I believe the people of the area understand that policing is delivered by people and not buildings, and that we will continue to keep people in our community safe.

"Our local policing teams and neighbourhood team will continue, as they have done, to deliver a service to the people of the Mournes area that is reflective of local issues and concerns.

“Communities are increasingly interacting with police in different ways. Reporting of general crime and incidents can now be done online, while the advent of social media has also presented new ways for local people to interact with police at all levels and in 'real-time' across our Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, You tube and Corporate Instagram accounts. It's also a great way for us to provide instant updates about incidents and events, as well as issuing advice and making appeals for information.

“Policing remains a 24 hours, seven days a week operation and we will continue to be there at people's time of need and in emergency situations. We can be contacted at any time of the day or night on either 101 or on 999 for emergencies."


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