An MLA has told The Times that he is ‘concerned’ about the reduction in neighbourhood police on patrol across the Coleraine area.
DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan said last week that he fears for rural areas, like Garvagh, that does not have a police station.
“I understand that there are cuts to the budgets, but the Neighbourhood officers that covered Garvagh gave residents a point of contact, now they are left with no one.”
Speaking after a woman was tied up and robbed in her Garvagh home last week, Coleraine councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan added: “This is exactly what the locals feared when the police station was closed, and it has now come to fruition. Community policing has been decimated in the rural areas and now we are living with the consequences of increased crime and increased fear of crime, exactly the opposite of what community policing is supposed to do.”
In a statement to The Coleraine Times, Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said: “Neighbourhood policing teams do great work within the Coleraine community.
“However, it’s been well documented that the Police Service of Northern Ireland, along with all other public sector organisations, is facing significant levels of budget reduction. Our aim is to deliver savings whilst ensuring that our service to the communities in Coleraine, and to all communities across the District, is fit for purpose and sustainable.
“Our priority is to keep people safe, and throughout this change process we will keep the community at the heart of everything we do – that’s what Policing with the Community is all about. The Chief Constable has made it clear that Policing with the Community will not be coming to an end.
“But, if we are becoming a smaller organisation, it is right that we look at how we best continue to deliver this in the future. I would urge the public to understand that there must be changes, but we are committed to keeping people safe, preventing crime and detecting offenders.”