Belfast Telegraph

PSNI reveals cuts to neighbourhood policing - with Belfast districts to amalgamate from Monday

The PSNI's Stephen Martin
The PSNI's Stephen Martin

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

The PSNI have announced significant cutbacks to neighbourhood policing in the wake of savage budget cuts.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin today told the Belfast Telegraph that neighbourhood policing teams across Northern Ireland will be reduced in the months to come.

He revealed that urban and rural region district policing has now been amalgamated.

And as of Monday, the two policing districts in Belfast - A covering north and west and B covering south and east - will be combined, with ChSupt Nigel Grimshaw having sole responsibility for the city in place of the four area commanders currently in place.

ACC Martin said the “substantial changes” reflect the "continuing drive to be more efficient” in response to £51.4m budget cuts and the review of public administration.

Other cuts include:

  • The PSNI estate will be assessed. The overall police estate is now about a third of what it was at the height of the Troubles. There are currently 16 custody suites and this number will be cut further;
  • Neighbourhood policing will be cut in some areas and reduced in others. The changes won’t all be immediate;
  • The PSNI vehicle fleet will be cut, reducing both the number and type of vehicles they have;
  • Schools regularly approach the police about work experience. Some of these requests will be refused as resources will have to be pushed elsewhere.

ACC Martin said money being spent on policing protests in north Belfast could be better spent on tackling burglary, anti-social behaviour, and race crimes.

“Nobody would be happier to see the parading tensions in north Belfast resolved than the police,” he said.

And he urged politicians to try their best to “resolve issues we pick up symptoms of” including issues around protests, parades, flags and the past.

On Monday, October 13 Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin took on his new role of ACC for District Policing throughout Northern Ireland.

Previously this work was headed up by two ACCs – who were responsible for four districts each in Urban and in Rural areas.

As well as now being responsible for the PSNI’s District Policing Command which has around 5000 officers and staff, ACC Martin will also look after Response and Neighbourhood Policing and for Volume Crime CID across Northern Ireland.

He has announced that from Monday, October 20, A District (North and West Belfast) and B District (East and South Belfast) will merge to become Belfast City Policing District. This new district will be under the command of Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw.

ACC Martin said: “Making this change now will give us the opportunity to fully contribute and inform the development of the new local government districts over the next few months.

“In April 2015 our remaining Districts will also move to align with the other new council areas. It is critical that we ensure that our structures give us the best opportunity to be both effective in partnership and efficient with public money.

“As you are well aware, we are facing unprecedented budget cuts and this needs to be taken into account when making structural changes."

He added: "However, the primary purpose of policing is about keeping people safe and ensuring that policing is delivered through the ethos of Policing with the Community. Delivering on both of these will ensure that policing is both effective and efficient."

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