Funding cut for the local ‘Guardian Angels’

There has been outrage over the decision to withdraw funding for the community safety wardens of Banbridge.

Citing difficulties in assessing the link between the presence of the wardens and a reduction in anti-social behaviour, the Department of Justice stated that all seven Northern Ireland local authorities with community safety wardens would see their funding cut.

Calling on the Department of Justice to reconsider its decision a spokesperson for Banbridge Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) outlined the invaluable work of the wardens: “The Community Safety Wardens that work throughout the Banbridge District during the day and in Banbridge town centre at night, play a crucial role in helping to make local people feel safer and in deterring anti-social behaviour.

“Since their introduction in 2009, the wardens have made a significant contribution to reducing anti-social behaviour across the Banbridge District as well as providing reassurance to local communities and to those enjoying the night time social economy in Banbridge town centre. The presence of the wardens is widely recognised as having the positive impact of diffusing potentially dangerous situations and preventing them from escalating thus reducing incidents of violent assault or criminal damage.

“Banbridge PCSP is lobbying the Department of Justice to re-consider its decision and to continue to provide additional funding for the Banbridge District Community Safety Wardens scheme to at least 31 March 2015. “

Adding their voice to concerns, Cllr Junior McCrumb and Jonathan Murphy as Chair and Vice- Chair of the PCSP said in a joint statement: “The Wardens represent value for money. Out of the DoJ’s budget, £20,000 is a very small sum, and the return we get for that money from the wardens is substantial.

“We are asking the Department of Justice to look favourably at the PCSP’s request to renew this vital funding. We are also calling on all local representatives to put party differences aside and work with us as we lobby the Department of Justice on this matter.”

Hoping that funding will be reinstated for the wardens, Banbridge District Council said it is committed to workng in partnership with the PCSP. A spokesperson said, “Banbridge council and Banbridge PCSP are committed to working together for the good of the community and in the event that future funding is not provided by the Department of Justice both parties will look at how they, as a partnership, can best address this issue”.