A cut in opening hours at Limavady Police Station enquiry office is a “retrograde” step for the town, it has been claimed.
East Londonderry DUP MLA George Robinson hit out at the new arrangements which are due to come into effect on Monday.
Concerned that this could be the thin end of the wedge towards total closure, Mr Robinson said: “For months there have been rumours that exactly the actions announced were to take place.
“Local senior officers were asked at a meeting in recent months if there were plans to eventually close Limavady station which was robustly denied.
“As a result, I have contacted the local command in Coleraine requesting a meeting so these cutbacks can be fully and properly explained to me and for me to relay to the police, on behalf of the Limavady community, exactly why I think their actions are a retrograde step for policing in this town.
“It concerns me deeply that the people of Limavady have limitations placed on a service that is required and appreciated with no regard for the positive affect a police presence has on local residents.”
From April 3, the Connell Street facility will be open to the public from 11am to 7pm, Monday to Friday.
It will be closed to the public at weekends and on public holidays.
The town’s enquiry office will also shut between 3pm and 3.30pm for lunch.
Present opening hours at the station are 8am - 8pm, Monday - Sunday (closed for lunch 1.30 - 2pm).
The changes, police say, are part of a Northern Ireland-wide package which reflects evolving digital footprint and means that people no longer need to visit station enquiry offices as often.
In last week’s announcement, Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “People are choosing to contact us in a different way and we want to deliver what they want, in the way they have chosen while maintaining our frontline service.”
Mr Robinson said he will also be raising this assertion when he meets local command.
He continued; “There also seems to be a deliberate decision to concentrate on social media and online reporting and contact. However, these are the very modern areas where older or other vulnerable people have the least expertise.
“To my mind the loss of 20 hours a week of the enquiry office is hugely damaging to confidence in the local police and to the communities concern at receiving an appropriate service when required.”