BANBRIDGE is on high alert against a growing dissident threat as voters prepare to go to the polls ahead of next week's General Election.

Wednesday, 28th April 2010, 11:46 am

A local member of the District Policing Partnership (DPP) has called for more policemen and women on the streets in case of a surprise attack in the area, in the wake of a number of car bombs across the province in recent weeks.

The PSNI is understood to be in the process of setting up checkpoints and dedicating more police officers to fighting the sustained dissident campaign across Northern Ireland

And Banbridge is just as likely as any other town to become the target of a violent attack, according to DUP councillor Junior McCrum.

"I have asked the police to put more officers on the streets on a number of occasions now," said the DPP member.

Area Commander Ken Mawhinney confirmed police will be more visible in the coming fortnight.

He saidm "As the Chief Constable has already outlined, there will be a significantly increased police presence in areas across Northern Ireland over coming days and Banbridge will be no exception."

Car bombs in Newtownhamilton and Holywood in recent weeks have put Northern Ireland on the same high level of alert as it was 12 years ago when a bomb exploded in Omagh, killing 29 people.

Mr McCrum said people should not become complacent in the light of recent attacks.

"I think people need to be aware and need to be vigilant," he said. "I think stepping up security especially coming up to the election is a good idea and certainly can't do any harm.

Chief Inspector Mawhinney urged local people across the district to assist police in any way they can to combat the dissident threat.

"For me, the assistance of the people of Banbridge is key," he said. "I would ask local people to be patient and I thank them for their continuing support."