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We need more police on the beat

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 26/08/2015

Police budget cuts could result in another eight stations being closed
Police budget cuts could result in another eight stations being closed

How often do we hear or read reports of someone being assaulted and who is in hospital undergoing treatment? But rarely do we see what being assaulted can really mean. Today we publish photographs of Londonderry man Danny Gallagher, who was severely kicked and punched in a brutal attack.

Look carefully at the results. See the myriad bruises, the swelling, the cuts, and wonder how could one human being do that to another.

Mr Gallagher was attacked simply for his mobile phone. For that his attackers were prepared to dance on the man's head. Fortunately, his injuries are of a nature that will heal, but the mental scars of the attack will probably stay with him much longer than the physical signs.

This has all the hallmarks of a random, virtually pointless assault. Mr Gallagher was simply walking at night to visit his son when he became the victim of a sudden and random attack.

It could have been anyone - and that, in a way, makes it more frightening.

People expect to be able to walk the streets of their own towns or cities without fear, but all too often, under the cover of darkness, they can become victims, just like Mr Gallagher.

Of course, people can be targeted during daylight hours also, as celebrity hairdresser Brenda Shankey discovered when her car was broken into and belongings including her wedding ring stolen. She believes that her daily routine of parking her vehicle and going for a walk had been noted and the thief or thieves were waiting to pounce. Being the victim of crime, even if it is only the loss of possessions, is a very unsettling experience. And confidence that the perpetrators will be found diminishes by the day as we learn of more and more policing cutbacks.

The proposed closure of more police stations and the fact that only one in the whole of Northern Ireland will be open around the clock if the plans are given the go-ahead leaves a perception in the public mind of a diminished service.

Senior officers can stress that services will not be affected and that officers will respond to emergency calls as quickly as possible, but the public will want to see proof before passing their own judgment.

What they certainly want to see is more police officers on the street. That is the greatest reassurance the police can give them.

Belfast Telegraph

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