Belfast Telegraph

PSNI to slash public opening hours at stations across Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

The PSNI is set to slash public opening hours at its stations across Northern Ireland in attempt to tackle savage budget cuts.

Station enquiry offices will soon be limited to maximum opening of 12 hours each day - with only two remaining open continuously.

And the PSNI is set to shut a number of its custody suites altogether to try and squeeze what it can from its shrinking bank balance.

The PSNI is attempting to save £38.4million by March 31, 2015 - with further cuts planned next year.

Earlier this year, Chief Constable George Hamilton painted a dire financial picture when he outlined the impact the cuts would have on his force, warning the PSNI would become unrecognisable as a result.

Following the outcome of October monitoring, the Department of Justice confirmed additional funding of £13m to help offset the pressures.

The force has already announced the loss of 300 temporary jobs, with neighbourhood policing effectively scrapped.

PSNI assistant chief constable for district policing, Stephen Martin, said the cuts to station opening hours "does not mean a reduction in our service".

"Policing remains a 24-hour, seven days a week operation and 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."

Research has shown police stations "receive a very small number of callers trying to attend to routine matters" between 10pm and 8am, a spokesman said.

Cutting the opening hours is predicted to save up to £250,000 a year.

The only exceptions will be offices at Musgrave Station in Belfast and Londonderry’s Strand Road, which will remain open to the public 24 hours a day.

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