THE District’s police commander has submitted a formal proposal to close Dromore Police Station.
The proposal has been made by E District commander, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson, following a period of review and consultation with the community and its representatives.
The recommendations, once approved by the Police Service Senior Executive Team, will be taken to the Northern Ireland Policing Board by Assistant Chief Constable, Dave Jones for the Board’s information and decision on disposal.
Local representatives were informed of the decision by Chief Superintendent Robinson decision over the last week. The stations in Keady and Brownlow will also close.
He explained: “As part of the review I have had to look very closely at all of the stations in my district, to ensure we are using all of our resources, including buildings, in the most effective and efficient way.
“As a result of the review, during which a range of views were canvassed, I have reached the view that, in E District the stations at Brownlow, Dromore and Keady are no longer required operationally and have recommended closure.
“In Northern Ireland we have a pattern of police stations unlike any other part of the United Kingdom. The current police estate remains 70% bigger in comparison to other UK police services of comparable size. It reflects the demands of a very different era in policing.
“Our aim is that policing should be a part of the local community. However, underused buildings will not achieve this, investment in police officers and staff working in the local community will. Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are working with their local communities, identifying and working to resolve the issues which matter the most to local people.
“Overall levels of reported crime in Northern Ireland are at 12-year low. Crime in E District has decreased by more than 100 crimes over the last year and detection rates have increased. The reduction in crimes has been delivered by the public working in partnership with police officers, not by police buildings.
“The public are increasingly engaging with Police in different ways – from online reporting of non-emergency and hate crime, to contacting local Neighbourhood Policing Teams directly through telephone numbers provided on our website.
“As a result of people increasingly using these alternative means to interact with police, fewer people are visiting or using police stations.
““The introduction of BlackBerry smartphones has also reduced the need for officers to return to a police station to complete administrative tasks. This has already increased the amount of patrol time per officer per shift by over an hour and a half, which they spend on the street in the community they serve.
“As with all other UK police services and publicly funded bodies, the PSNI has undertaken to deliver £135 million in efficiency savings back to the government over the next four years. As part of our agreed plan to deliver these savings, which was previously submitted to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, we must deliver a £2.2 million saving in the estate baseline budget in order to protect frontline staff and services. This means we cannot continue to fund the current size of our police estate.”
Chief Superintendent Robinson added:“”My command team and I are committed to listening to people in the communities we serve. I assure you that a decision to recommend the closure of a station is not taken lightly. I can understand that some may take comfort in having a police station nearby. However, modern policing is about people, not buildings.
“We held public meetings in all the police station areas, organised a period of formal consultation over a month long, provided details of the consultation in local press and invited comment in person.
“We found at the public meetings that while some were in support of retaining the stations for reassurance purposes, others understood the financial implications of retaining under used stations and some suggested a partnership approach with one building housing a number of different agencies.
“After considering all the evidence provided, we were compelled to propose the closure and disposal of the three stations.
“We will continue to deliver a professional and protective service in these areas and local neighbourhood and response teams will continue to provide a visible presence and develop and enhance the established relationships with communities in Brownlow, Dromore and Keady.
“I want to reassure residents in these areas that any reduction in the police estate does not equate with a reduction in service. We will continue to work in partnership with local people to develop and implement innovative and flexible policing initiatives, ensuring that policing remains right in the heart of their communities.”