MLA Adrian McQuillan has claimed that Garvagh PSNI station IS to close.
The outraged MLA told the Times exclusively that he has learned that, following consultation on the future of all police stations in the province, the rural base will close but the Portrush PSNI station has been reprieved.
“This will leave a big hole in the rural community and will effectively mean that there will be no police stations between Coleraine and Magherafelt,” sad the DUP man.
“Once again it’s the rural people who are paying the price.”
Mr McQuillan also poured scorn on what he described as “Blackberry” policing.
“The PSNI tell us that they can police the Garvagh area using Blackberry mobile phones but that means there will be no actual police presence in the town at all.
“This means that the officers will be based out of Coleraine and, like previous years, Garvagh residents will end up with response officers who have to use sat navs to even find the town.
“They say that these decisions are based on statistics but perhaps the Garvagh statistics don’t stack up because people have lost confidence or they don’t think it’s worth the bother of reporting incidents to the police or they have no confidence in the response they receive.
“How can you call it a consultation exercise when you aren’t going to listen to what people say?
“This was just a box ticking exercise.”
Mr McQuillan said he personally was “gutted” at the decision as he and local Garvagh PSNI officers “had put in a lot of work recently to reassure the people of Garvagh” of the police presence in the town.
“Have they actually costed out the price of Blackberry policing the town compared with the cost of having five or six officers based in the town?
“The CCTV in the town is well out of date now. So what will happen the money they make from selling off Garvagh station? Will it be used to upgrade the town’s CCTV or will it just be swallowed up into a massive black hole somewhere?”
At the time of going to Press yesterday (Monday), local police confirmed that District Commander Chris Noble has made these recommendations.
The next step in the process is that the recommendations will go to Regional Assistant Chief Constable for Rural Region, Dave Jones, before being presented to the Policing Board.
A PSNI spokesperson refused to confirm the decision but said that a statement would be released on Tuessday.