Banbridge Police are advising members of the public that the town’s station enquiry office opening hours will be changing next month.
The opening hours at the Castlewellan Road station will be reduced to 11am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, from April 3.
The station enquiry office, which is used by people to produce documents, answer bail and for other non-emergency matters, is currently open 8am - 8pm, Monday to Friday.
A statement issued on the PSNI Banbridge Facebook page explained the reasons behind the decision to reduce the opening hours.
“Digital advances mean you are contacting us in different ways. Since 2012/13 the number of reports made to police at stations has reduced by 28,762 reports. You are now able to report general crime to us online (via the PSNI website - www.psni.police.uk) and engage with us through social media,” it said.
“In this environment of changing public need and police resources, we are designing for the future and providing best value for public money.”
The Banbridge PSNI post stresses that officers can still be contacted 24 hours a day by phoning 101, or 999 in the case of an emergency.
Reacting to the decision to reduce the enquiry office hours at the local station, Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Glenn Barr said he will be inviting the Chief Constable to Banbridge to discuss the reduction of policing resources in the town.
Accusing the PSNI of “ignoring the people of Banbridge by progressing with changes that have seen operational policing stripped from the local station”, Cllr Barr commented: “No-one from the Justice Department or PSNI has even bothered to attempt to address the concerns of democratically elected representatives – this is either monumental arrogance or institutional ignorance.
“If the case in defence of removing policing from the town is that we have comparably lower crime rates it is frankly ridiculous as that is as a result of having a permanent police presence in Banbridge.”
When the proposal to reduce opening hours at the local station was first mooted last year, Upper Bann MP David Simpson described it as “a further blow to the town.”
Stressing that he would be pressing for the PSNI to rethink the move towards “further cuts”, he commented: “It is widely known that the level of access and presence of a PSNI station in any town promotes public confidence and assists with crime figures.
“It is a basic service that the people of Banbridge not only deserve but need.”
For a full list of station enquiry offices and their revised opening hours log on to www.psni.police.uk