Borough’s DPP rage at PSNI’s closure decision
Newtownabbey District Policing Partnership (DPP) has reacted with fury after confirmation that police stations in the borough are to close during the night.
At a private meeting of the DPP on Monday night, Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine handed the chairman of the DPP, Councillor Fraser Agnew, a letter advising him of his decision to close Newtownabbey, Antrim, Carrickfergus and Lisburn stations between 11pm and 8am, starting April 1.
The PSNI said it will increase the number of police officers on the ground. However DPP members accused the PSNI of no consultation on the matter.
Independent DPP member John Blair said: “I am truly appalled at how this further change has been thrust upon DPP members who will ultimately be faced with a lot of public dissatisfaction regarding this issue.
“I intend to fully pursue this with the Policing Board and ask if the membership of that Board is content with this lack of consultation with local representatives.
“The replacement of some of these posts with civilian staff would be a more effective and reassuring way of maximising the number of officers on local streets.
“Given that I was not worthy of meaningful consultation on this major change, I can hardly be expected to defend or justify this reduction in public service.”
DPP chairman Fraser Agnew said: “The way in which this matter was handled leaves me perplexed and annoyed.
“To be handed a letter five minutes before a meeting starts advising me of a decision that will affect residents of the borough without any consultation with the DPP is arrogant in the extreme.
“I would have thought that at least the police would have consulted with the DPP, presented their business case for the proposed closure, and allow members to consider all the implications of the proposal, before making a decision. As it is a decision has been made and what the DPP or for that matter any others think, doesn’t matter. I have to say that I have not experienced such a sense of anger amongst my colleagues in the DPP as I did last evening (Monday).”
A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “Following a review across D District, there will be a change in opening hours at Antrim, Newtownabbey, Lisburn and Carrick stations from April 1 to allow more officers to be deployed at night to respond to the needs of the community.
“The changes will mean that the four stations will be open to the public for routine business between 8am and 11pm.
“Between 11pm and 8am the general enquiry offices will no longer be open — so anyone coming to the station, for example, to hand in driving documents, will be asked to return at 8am.
“However, police will continue to respond and assist anyone coming to the station in an emergency situation. All four stations have 24 hour security personnel on duty who can ensure that the appropriate resources are tasked in an emergency and members of the public get quick and professional assistance.
“The changes will bring D District in line with other parts of Northern Ireland and the UK.”
District Commander, Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine, said he met with DPP representatives back in September to brief them on a number of proposals, including the reduction in station opening hours.
“Following a review carried out, the decision was taken in the interests of the whole community,” he said.