Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

PSNI defends station closures despite threat from dissidents

The PSNI has defended plans to close a number police stations saying the proposals would “free up” officers to carry out more frontline duties.

During the week the service came under fire after it emerged up to five more stations had been earmarked for closure — despite the growing security threat from dissident republicans.

More than 40 police stations across Northern Ireland are expected to be closed over the next two years. There are currently 108 stations in the province, and police say this is too many.

Hillsborough, Randalstown and Ballyclare police stations are set to be axed but Dunmurry and Moira — which had been rumoured to close — are not in the firing line.

District Commander for D District Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine confirmed the closures but stressed there were no plans to change the opening hours of Dunmurry and Moira after claims emerged that Lisburn police station could close to the public between 11pm and 7am.

“Hillsborough station has had very limited opening hours in the recent past while Randalstown has been closed to the public for quite some time,” Chief Superintendent Irvine said.

“Ballyclare station has been attended by an average of fewer than six callers a day.

“There are currently no plans to change the opening hours of Dunmurry and Moira stations.”

He said one of the main aims behind the review was to ensure that the maximum number of officers were available for frontline policing duties instead of being tied up in buildings.

“The Police Service is currently looking at a range of options to make our service more effective and free up more officers to respond to the needs of the community,” he added.

The NIO has demanded the PSNI make around £17 million in savings. As a result more than 25 stations have been classed as unnecessary.

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