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 2016 Estate Strategy details progression towards a ‘fit for purpose’ Police Estate for the next 35–50 years including planned investment in three new police stations at Armagh, Cookstown and Ballymena at the St Patricks Barracks site, subject to available funding.
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.
The Chief Constable decided earlier this year to suspend the station disposal process to allow him time to review the risks, benefits and implications of the proposals and be personally satisfied that any formal removal of these buildings from the police estate were considered against any impact this would have on the community.
This suspension has ended and he has now presented the findings to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, seeking disposal of the following 12 of the organisation’s 59 police stations: Aughnacloy, Willowfield and York Road in Belfast, Ballyclare, Ballynahinch, Castlederg, Cushendall, Maghera, Moira, Portaferry, Tandragee and Warrenpoint.
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “We are aware that the permanent closure and disposal of stations is an emotive issue and can have an effect on community confidence.
“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.
“Times have changed, and due to advancements in modern technology as well as continuing budgetary restraints, the Police Service continues to look at new ways of providing the most effective service to the public in the most cost efficient way.
“Communities are increasingly interacting with police in different ways. The digital age means we are able to offer the public instant access to information and services through the PSNI website. It also provides local information specific to each of our 11 Policing Districts.
“Reporting of general crime and incidents can now also 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 32 Facebook pages, 35 Twitter feeds, You tube and Corporate Instagram account – over 650,000 followers in total. 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.
ACC Martin added: “The reality is that nearly all policing services are delivered outside of stations. Policing isn’t about buildings, it is about officers working with the community in order to protect them, prevent crime and detect criminals.
“The PSNI, like all public services, has faced substantial financial reductions and disposing of these stations will assist us to live within the Police budget. The amount of money allocated to the PSNI annually to police Northern Ireland has reduced significantly in recent years. We are now being asked to plan for potential further cuts in 2017/18.
“All routine policing will carry on. We will patrol in vehicles and on foot, carry out searches, arrest criminals and the public will continue to see police on a daily basis. Across our 11 Policing Districts there are 26 Local Policing Teams working alongside locally based detectives responding to calls, conducting investigations, and dealing with community problems. They are also supported by 34 Neighbourhood Policing Teams across Northern Ireland based in areas with higher levels of crime and deprivation and a number of other areas of rural isolation or particular policing need.
“I would like to reassure the public that disposing of these stations will not affect our core purpose of Keeping People Safe. 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.
“Policing is changing but our policing purpose remains the same – Keeping People Safe is still our priority. We will continue to do this by preventing harm, protecting the vulnerable and detecting offenders.”
- District Commander Superintendent John Magill said: “I believe the people of the Glens area understand that policing is delivered by people and not buildings, and that we will continue to keep people in our community safe. Cushendall station has been closed for some time now and our local policing teams and neighbourhood team will continue, as they have done, to deliver a service to the people of the Glens 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.