The UUP has backed calls for Banbridge PSNI station to be re-opened as a fully operational policing base.
A delegation from the party, led by MLA Doug Beattie, met with police over the ongoing concerns about the lack of a permanent police presence at the local station.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Beattie said he would join residents’ calls for police to routinely operate from the station “in order to deliver visible, proactive and disruptive policing in the Banbridge area.”
“I have long spoken about the need to resource the PSNI to enable them to be both effective and have the resilience in numbers to meet trending crime,” he stated.
“This has not been the case over recent years as we have seen the PSNI numbers fall and their budget being cut. In order to meet this the PSNI have had to make some hard decisions and in the Banbridge area.
“Clearly residents are concerned at recent developments in the profile of the PSNI in the town and the current perception is that Banbridge is vulnerable to criminal gangs or opportunistic individuals intent on crime. These concerns must be addressed in the same way that actual crime figures need to be addressed.
“Having met Supt David Moore with my council colleagues from both Banbridge and Portadown I can do nothing but commend him and his officers for the work they do and accept they understand the issue and concerns at hand. Their promise to increase visible policing within resource constraints is welcome but I do not believe it will allay the fears of some Banbridge residents in the short to medium term.
“The reinstating of the Neighbourhood Policing Team – a known name and face – in shadow form may help create better understanding in the area and I applaud this initiative by the PSNI, brought about by public concern.
“However it is clear the PSNI station in Banbridge – which is still manned and operational - does not form part of the footprint of normal day to day policing in Banbridge and the surrounding area.
“This has had a major effect on confidence and indeed it is felt that it has left the town in a more vulnerable position.
“In understanding the police resource constraints I am also mindful of the feelings of many of the residents of Banbridge.
“Therefore I would join them in asking the PSNI to reconsider its decision to remove the station as part of the policing overlay and begin to routinely operate from it once again.”
Meanwhile, DUP MLA Carla Lockhart, who along with Upper Bann MP David Simpson recently met with Supt Moore to discuss concerns about policing in the town, has welcomed a commitment from the PSNI to implement “high visibility patrolling” and use dedicated officers in a bid to improve engagement with the local community.
“Whilst long term we will continue to press for the police station to reopen, we are pleased that these changes will be made to help improve and enhance the current provision,” she said.