The PSNI’s District Commander has said the removal of neighbourhood policing in Banbridge ‘is not a retreat’.
Superintendent David Moore, speaking ahead of new policing structures which come into force this week, said that, while there will be just two critical Neighbourhood policing teams in Lurgan and Portadown, Banbridge will still be well served by the PSNI.
“That doesn’t take away my ability to move them to other functions but they are quite small teams. They are replacing a much larger designated neighbourhood policing team.
“We have to be quite selfish with those people in order to bring them to the point of greatest benefit.”
The police chief explained that neighbourhood and response units are to merge this week to become Local Policing Teams (LPT) with units in Lurgan and Armagh.
Officers who had previously been part of Banbridge Neighbourhood Team would be serving the new LPT. Banbridge is to become the regional headquarters.
The area has been split into the seven District Electoral Areas (DEA) and one sub DEA in Banbridge town.
“Why is that important? Because I have to prove to the people in Banbridge both in the town and the rural area that this is not a retreat because it is not.
“People are concerned because I am not basing any of my LPTs or critical neighbourhood teams in Banbridge and there are lots of practical reasons for that but what I want people to try and understand is that where an officer turns up, opens a locker, gets into a uniform and gets a briefing from their sergeant means far less in policing terms than people outside our fence think.
“So there will be a certain amount of officers reporting to Armagh, certain number coming here (Lurgan) but they will all get sent to their DEA.
“We are creating a sub DEA around Banbridge town in order to provide additional reassurance for people who have been subjected to some very loose information coming from other sources.
“I am concerned that those people are losing their confidence in policing because of very misinformed commentary.”
He explained that a major communications system informs their Comms Unit, based in Banbridge, via a satellite every seven seconds exactly where every officer and vehicle is.
“I have sergeants in Banbridge watching this for me 24-7 to make sure that what I want to be happening is happening.
“We haven’t been able to magic these resources out of thin air. We have had to make some difficult decisions.
“People of Banbridge are going to take a lot of persuasion that the removal of a neighbourhood policing team from Banbridge wasn’t a bad decision.
“The problem I have is that we couldn’t resource that and we weren’t getting the best out of those two separate functions anyway.” Regarding requests for meetings with the Chief Constable in relation to Banbridge, Superintendent Moore said he understood why some polticians wanted to speak to the head of an organisation. “I will be blunt.
“If anyone wants to talk about the structures Davy Moore has built here, Davy Moore is available at any time.
“They will also be deploying resources every shift into Banbridge town that will come from here (Lurgan).
“It is not that big a journey, there are some would tell you it’s the other side of the world but in policing terms if you imagine the changeover times, the sergeants here (Lurgan) deploying their resources out to their DEAs and they will go out to their DEAs in this urban area and the sub DEA in Banbridge on fixed tasks, the ability to respond and the ability to do problem solving.”