Concern over reduction of station opening hours

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The Chairman of Banbridge Policing and Community Safety Partnership, Councillor Seamus Doyle, has said he is concerned about the planned reduction of opening hours at Banbridge police station.

Due to budget cuts the station will change from 24 hours a day to opening from 8am until 8pm.

District Commander, Chief Superintendent Pauline Shields said: “From 1 January, 2015 police stations in Armagh, Banbridge, Lurgan, Portadown and Newry, will open to the public from 8am to 8pm. We know that our peak period of footfall occurs between these times so we hope this change in opening hours will bring a minimum of inconvenience.”

However, Mr Doyle said he is concerned there will be a reduction in service to the people of Bnabridge. “This is because of budgets cuts because Stormont couldn’t get its act together,” he said. “I don’t feel happy about any reduction in service and I hope this won’t have too great an impact on local people. I hope the PSNI have chosen the opening hours correctly for when people visit the police station.”

MLA Jo-Anne Dobson added: “The collapse of the current budget placed the PSNI, like so many of our other public services, in an extremely difficult situation, forcing in-year cuts to their budget. The PSNI have also announced that there will be savings made through reducing the numbers of Civilian Detention Officers, redeploying PSNI Custody Officers and also reducing police overtime and again I will be looking to them to ensure that these in no way affect front-line policing. Many of the staff involved in these changes will be civilian and were employed for the very reason of freeing up officers to return to duty. I would therefore urge caution in any future changes to ensure that we have a police service capable of responding to the needs of the public.”

Councillor Glenn Barr, who is a member of the Banbridge Police and Community Safety Partnership concluded: “Given over three quarters of the PSNI’s funding is on staff and officer salaries it may become inevitable to reduce staff in order to make further savings and this would create a worrying situation.

“The public need reassurance from the Chief Constable that they will not see a weakened police service, left to fight crime with one hand tied behind its back.”