Police command structure remodelled
Police in Northern Ireland have outlined a new command structure aimed at delivering services in the face of multi-million pound budget cuts.
The PSNI's seven district model is being replaced with an eleven district model, in line with the borders of the region's new local government boundaries.
Police acknowledge the new districts will not be as well resourced as their predecessors.
They will be managed by another command tier, made up of three area commands - North, South and Belfast.
As well as the structural reconfiguration, the PSNI is also making changes to how officers go about their jobs.
Dedicated police response teams will no longer operate, with call-outs being dealt with by existing Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) instead, whose numbers are being reduced, and new Local Policing Teams (LPTs).
The LPTs are designed to be more multi-functional, responding to calls while also attempting to forge long-term community relationships.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin explained the new structures.
He said the police had had to implement £38 million in cuts last year and faced further reductions of £40 million in the next financial year.
"This structure will allow us to use officers and staff more flexibly and ensure we keep people safe across all our districts ,as well as providing local accountability and effective partnership working," he said.
"Our aim is to ensure that our service to all communities in Northern Ireland is fit for purpose and sustainable while still delivering savings.
"I would urge the public to understand that there must be changes in the way that policing services are delivered as we continue to restructure.
"The impact of the budget cuts will not be felt on district policing alone; it will be right across the full spectrum of policing."
The 11 District Commanders have all been appointed.
"We are still in the process of finalising details on the exact structure of front line service delivery, but it's been decided that response teams will no longer exist," Mr Martin said.
"Instead there will be a mixture of 25 Local Policing Teams (LPTs) and over 30 Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) across Northern Ireland as well as local detectives in each district.
"We recognise this represents a reduction to the current number of NPTs across Northern Ireland, however the LPTs are an exciting development.
"They will not just attend calls but actually start to develop a greater sense of ownership of the area and the problems within it.
"They will build up an enhanced knowledge through engagement with community representatives, local clergy, principals of schools and other key figures.
"The LPTs will be multi-functional and deliver core policing on a daily basis as well as find solutions to problems in a much more Policing with the Community style than the previous response teams.
"We also recognise that some areas across Northern Ireland have higher levels of crime and deprivation, as well as elements of remoteness and it is important that we maintain their confidence.
"Neighbourhood Policing Teams will be based in these areas to provide a dedicated extra policing presence, reassurance and commitment to communities where it is most needed.
"These officers will provide an extra level of commitment to allow for long-term problem solving and develop partnerships in order to reduce offending and reduce crime.
"They will be involved in engagement, including mediation and conflict resolution, particularly in contentious situations or where there are interface problems.
"There will be a partnership approach between the LPTs and NPTs which will provide a more effective and holistic way of working together in local communities to protect the public, prevent crime and detect offenders.
"All these officers will now attend incidents, investigate them and engage and work with the community."
The new structures will be place by the start of April but the police said it would take up to six months to complete the transition.
Mr Martin added: "During this time of change I would like to reassure the public that policing remains a 24 hour, seven days a week operation and we will be there at people's time of need."