Bodies working to create a vibrant community

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Bodies working to create a vibrant community thumbnailSpeakers at the Newry City DEA forum meeting with PSNI Inspector Russell Vogan

A MULTI-stranded approach is the only way to create "respectful, safe and vibrant communities" within the district, it was said at Wednesday's Newry City DEA forum meeting.

The meeting provided an opportunity for various agencies within the DEA to outline their strategies for the area.

PSNI Inspector Russell Vogan spoke about how the policing model has had to be adapted and developed in accordance with budgetary constraints to fit the needs of each particular DEA.

Inspector Vogan said: "In relation to local policing teams we have areas that we work from - Newry Ardmore Station and Downpatrick Police Station on the other side of the district.

"Unfortunately we recently had taken cuts. A year-and-a-half ago we would have had two Inspectors, two Sergeants and 16 Constables operating in Newry as a neighbourhood policing team.

"That's now down to one Inspector, one Sergeant and six Constables trying to deliver the same quality policing that we had been."

Speaking about police engagement with the public, the Inspector said: "We're trying to empower the community and look at what's affecting their quality of life. We'd ask people to tell us and we'll look to see if we can help."

Inspector Vogan said that the PSNI have developed good working relations with other public bodies.

"We're working with a lot of statutory bodies; the Housing Executive, the PCSP, the Fire and Rescue Service, the local council, but, most importantly, the community themselves.

"What's affecting people in their day-to-day lives? Anti-social behaviour, burglaries, cold-calling and cyber-crime. Those are the issues that we're picking up."

Inspector Vogan said that the PSNI rely on the vigilance of neighbourhood watch teams in the area, which he attributed to with giving police a "head-start," before he talked about the scourge of cold-callers and online scammers, who tended to prey particularly on the elderly.

Loma Wilson, Regional Manager of the Housing Executive, spoke of a shake-up to their Social Housing Applications Policy, which they hope to reconfigure and optimise to reflect modern social housing needs.

Ms Wilson said: "We have the Social Housing and Applications Policy.

 "This is how people are assessed and put on the waiting list for social housing. This hasn't changed in the last 17 years and it's now going out for change and there's a consultation document on that.

"The aims of this review and our policy is really to try and get a better range of solutions for people to meet housing need, because the problem at the moment is that social housing isn't meeting all of the needs.

"We're hoping for an improved system for the most vulnerable applicants and a more accurate waiting list that reflects current housing circumstances.

"And those with greatest housing need receive priority with recognition of their time in need, as the system at the moment, gives no credence to when you applied for housing," added Ms Wilson.

DEA Coordinator for Newry, Kerri Morrow, said: "We'll be working for issues that are local. The priorities for Newry that have been identified over the last 18 months include; road safety, mental health, creating job opportunities and employment, quality and affordable housing, shared space and services, anti-social behaviour and crime prevention and community relations."

Ms Morrow said that the desired outcome of the DEA strategy is for "all people within Newry, Mourne and Down live in respectful, safe vibrant communities," and that various areas, such as crime prevention, road safety and good relations have been pinpointed to make this realisable.


Subscribe to read full newspaper »

Send to a friend

Please complete the following form to inform a friend about this page.

In order to process your information we must ask you to enter the letters in the image into the box:

CAPTCHA Image play audio version Reload Image

* Mandatory field - please complete