Police patrols around Banbridge are to increase after public concerns over crime were raised during a meeting between the DUP and the PSNI’s District Commander.
But while DUP representatives David Simpson MP and Carla Lockhart MLA hailed the meeting with Superintendent David Moore as a success, initial responses from those behind a petition to re-open the local station have been less positive.
PSNI confirmed there are no plans to re-open the station despite over 1,000 people signing the petition.
But Supt Moore admitted that whilst “people who live work and play in Banbridge are safer today than at any time in recent years,” he accepts that “some people don’t feel that much safer.”
Speaking following the meeting David Simpson and Carla Lockhart said: “Following the most recent spate of incidents we have made fresh appeals to Supt Moore and are pleased with the progress we have made.
“On Friday we met with him and discussed a number of potential changes and as a result we have been given a very clear commitment to increase the high visibility patrolling through a series of measures with PSNI patrolling and use of marked PSNI cars.
“The secondmeasure, which is of significance given the concerns that people have raised, will be that they have committed to improve community relations through use of dedicated officers for community engagement.
“This is a positive move. It will help foster the trust and lines of communication from the ground up. Whilst long term we will continue to press for the police station to reopen we are pleased that these changes will be made to help improve and enhance the current provision.”
The local man who launched the petition and who did not want to be named, told the Leader that he doesn’t think the increased reponse will have much impact. He said: “To be honest I don’t think it’ll make that much difference, we will still have slower response times.
“I don’t think you can call it a success when the objective wasn’t achieved. You’ve seen the amount of residents who want the station fully operational again and I don’t think any of them will consider it a success either.”
Following the meeting with local DUP representatives, Superintendent David Moore said: “The people who live work and play in Banbridge are safer today than at any time in recent years.
“Last year in Banbridge 100 fewer people knew the trauma of becoming a victim of crime, and whilst I acknowledge that is scant comfort for those who were, this is part of an overall crime reduction of over one third in the last fifteen years.
“I must acknowledge that despite this, some people don’t feel that much safer. I acknowledge too that for some, the re-structuring two years ago plays a part in that. There are those who say that Banbridge PSNI station is no longer operational. That is not true.
“We invested in a brand-new custody suite just last year, open 24 hours a day, and providing a custody centre which is available to over half the province.
“Our Co-ordination and Tasking Centre is there too, another 24-hour facility.
“In the modern policing age we are able to continue to provide an effective service with reduced resources because we are able to do things differently.” He added: “It doesn’t really matter what station your cops use to get changed into uniform, we don’t sit in a crew room waiting for a call, we’re already out there, looking for trouble, and using the best available technology and analysis to put ourselves in troubles way.
“The reduction in the opening hours at Banbridge station’s Enquiry office tells a similar tale. You have been using these offices less and less, as both the community and the police service become more comfortable with new ways of transacting business.
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“Most of the people who call at the Enquiry Office now are there because we make them come there. I for one think it is unnecessary to have that as a 24 hour service, and I think it is right to use those resources in critical areas of service delivery.
“The dedication of the PSNI to the people of Banbridge has never been in doubt, nor has that dedication ever been more effective at keeping Banbridge safe than it is now.”