A LOCAL MLA says people in rural areas have no idea how to get in contact with police.
DUP Assemblyman Adrian McQuillan, pictured, was speaking last week after he was approached by a local businessman whose premises had been burgled.
“We have no police station here in Garvagh.
“People don’t know who the local officers are or how to contact them in a time of need. I think that something needs to be done particularly in rural areas like Kilrea and Garvagh, where people would have been used to walking into their local police station and having a chat with an officer they knew.
“This man just wanted a officer to come out and see him and for the crime to be recorded. I just feel that people in rural areas are being let down.
The MLA claimed that he tried to contact a number of community police but each and every mobile he called went to answer phone.
“ We are told only to use ‘999’ in an emmergency, but people have no idea what to do when they need police when it is not an emmergency.”
The MLA said he is going to raise the issue with the Policing and Community Safety Partnership to see if they could get involved in the education process.
In a statement a police spokesperson said: “ Police are firmly committed to delivering a professional service to the whole of the community. We make it clear that non-emergency calls should be made to 0845 600 800 and if it is an emergency people should dial 999.
“We also have a responsibility to the public to use our resources in the most effective and efficient way. I understand that many in Garvagh may have become used to a local station across the years, but policing in the community is about people not buildings.
“Beat patrols were out and about in Garvagh every morning of last week. This allowed our neighbourhood officers to engage with people right across the community, from parents dropping their kids off to school, to older people out getting the papers and shop keepers working away.
“The neighbourhood team is very much focused on offering a personal, professional and protective service to the public. I would be happy to arrange to meet the gentleman and or Mr McQuillan to clarify any issues.”