Put more police on beat, MLA urges as 12 stations to be sold
The sale of Castlederg's PSNI station must lead to more police being put on the beat in the town, unionist politicians have said.
The PSNI announced yesterday that 12 stations across Northern Ireland are being sold as part of cost-saving measures.
As well as the Co Tyrone station, the other stations up for sale will be Aughnacloy, Ballyclare, Ballynahinch, Cushendall, Maghera, Moira, Portaferry, Tandragee, Warrenpoint, Willowfield and York Road in Belfast.
All of the buildings are already closed to the public and no longer have officers or staff working in them. The move will generate an estimated £1.5m for the Policing Board, which owns the PSNI's estate, and result in annual savings of about £600,000.
However, DUP MLA for West Tyrone Thomas Buchanan said: "Speaking for Castlederg, I'm really disappointed. I don't feel that the proper consultation was carried out with the community before the decision was made.
"Police may well get a lot more information through social media, but that doesn't bring much comfort to senior citizens sitting at home afraid of being broken into."
He added: "We'll be keeping a close eye on the promises the police have made that we'll see more personnel on the ground."
Sinn Fein MLA Michaela Boyle welcomed the closure, saying Castlederg station had been "a massive drain on the public purse".
"This militarised barracks, which has been lying empty, contributes nothing to civic and accountable policing in Castlederg," she said.
UUP Policing Board member Ross Hussey MLA said that the decision to sell Castlederg's station had left him "deeply concerned".
"During the various consultations it was clear the public generally wanted a station to remain," he said.
"There remains a major terrorist threat to Northern Ireland and it is widely accepted that there is a cell based in the Strabane/Londonderry area."
He said he felt a bomb disposal team should be retained in the village.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said he was aware the closures were an "emotive issue" which could effect community confidence.
"I'd like to reassure the public that these 12 stations are no longer being used by police operationally and formally disposing of them will save money," he added.