Belfast Telegraph

PSNI station office hours slashed as cuts continue

By Deborah McAleese

All but two police stations in Northern Ireland are to have their opening hours to the public slashed as savage cuts to the service continue.

Station enquiry offices across the region will be open for a maximum of 12 hours each day, other than those at Musgrave Street in Belfast and Strand Road in Londonderry.

The closure of three custody suites was also confirmed as the force attempts to make cuts of £38.4m by next March.

A senior police officer said that less people were now attending police stations, claiming that the public was increasingly engaging with the PSNI through other means including Facebook and Twitter.

Police said cutting the enquiry office opening hours will save up to £250,000 per year and up to £75,000 by the end of this financial year.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing, Stephen Martin, said: "It is important the public is reassured that any reduction in enquiry office opening hours does not mean a reduction in our service.

"We will continue to be there at people's time of need.

"Police activities within stations will continue as normal and we can be contacted 24 hours a day on either 101 or for emergencies on 999."

Police said research carried out showed the PSNI receive a small number of callers trying to attend for routine matters, such as presenting for bail and handing in driving documents, between the hours of 10pm and 8am.

They said the number of people visiting the station enquiry offices after 10pm accounts for less than 2% of visits to the enquiry office over a whole week.

ACC Martin added: "The public are increasingly engaging with the police in different ways, from online reporting of non-emergency and hate crime incidents, to interacting with local police on one of our 32 Facebook pages and 32 Twitter feeds, and contacting local Neighbourhood Policing Teams directly as their contact details are available from the PSNI website.

"We have taken efforts to minimise any inconvenience caused to communities through reducing the station enquiry office opening hours by taking into consideration peak times they are used. Each of the district commanders will be determining the opening hours at every one of our stations based on demand.

"They will be communicating the new public opening times to their communities through the local media and via our social media channels and website over coming weeks."

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