Two North Down police stations are under threat of closure as a result of the new Police Estate Strategy.
On Monday, November 14, the PSNI presented its latest Estate Strategy to the Resource and Improvement Committee of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, which highlights Holywood and Donaghadee police stations for potential closure.
Several politicians have been quick to condem the findings, including North Down DUP councillor Jennifer Gilmour who stated: “In the review there is the threat of it closing by 2015. If this happens it will have a devastating impact for the safety and security of the town.
“Bangor Police Station would be the nearest station covering the area, this is totally unacceptable as it would dramatically increase response times and leave the people of Holywood feeling vulnerable and isolated.
“For the size of the town I feel that it would be totally unacceptable to be faced with the possibility of not having a functioning Police Station.”
Alliance Councillor Andrew Muir urged the Chief Constable to remove Holywood from the list of stations which will be axed.
Cllr Muir stated: “With the recent spike in burglaries I am astounded that the Police are considering removing this local station. We need local officers based nearby, not miles away in Bangor or further afield.
“If plans proceed I fear that patrols will become a rare sight on Holywood streets and response times ridiculous. People who need to visit a police station in person will also have to travel to Bangor to conduct simple tasks such as presentation of a driving licence.”
Mr Muir continued: “A sense of betrayal can be felt in Holywood after Holywood Police Station enquiry office opening hours were cut a few years ago. People are angry that the Police are now sharpening the axe and hoping to close the station in its entirety.”
DUP MLA for North Down, Peter Weir said that although disapointed, he is not surprised by the PSNI’s decision to put the two stations under threat, adding that the decision “is simply unacceptable”.
“This proposal, if allowed to go through, would leave North Down with just one police station, namely Bangor. It would mean that out of 47 police stations in Northern Ireland we would be left with just one. Bangor Station would be left to service the largest population of any police station in Northern Ireland, and Holywood would be the largest town in Northern Ireland without a station.
“That shows how ill thought out this proposal is. The PSNI must see common sense and remove this threat forthwith.”