Police methods are to dramatically change on Monday with a reorganisation of policing teams and a new operational style coming into force.
The old Portadown and Brownlow neighbourhood policing teams are to disappear with the creation of a new ‘critical’ neighbourhood team to cover both Portadown and Craigavon.
There will be four ‘critical’ neighbourhood teams covering the Lurgan, Brownlow and Portadown areas.
Though the teams will exist in these areas due to ‘particular problems’ there, the lead policing structure will become the newly formed Local Policing Teams (LPT) - one based in Lurgan and the other in Armagh.
The Lurgan LPT will have a more urban focus in both Portadown and Lurgan while the Armagh LPT will cover a vast rural area stretching to south Armagh.
Superintendent David Moore, PSNI District Commander, said, “These officers will be supported by four Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs), based in Armagh, Mahon Road and Lurgan Police Stations. Both teams will be mobile and deployed to areas to deal with critical issues. Jointly their focus will remain on protecting people, preventing crime and detecting offenders.”
He explained that gone will be the separate response and neighbourhood style policing units and the two will merge, with officers expected to respond to situations and continue with follow-up care.
“Within those areas, those critical neighbourhood teams will be primarily focusing on where we see areas of the greatest need.”
The district commander said that, previously, neighbourhood and response had not always worked well together. “Neighbourhood did their thing and response did their thing but they weren’t coming together in terms of what we wanted to achieve.
“We haven’t walked away from neighbourhood. Neighbourhood policing and policing with the community is actually going to be reinforced.”
The superintendent added that the new shift patterns will put more police on the ground, when they are most needed.
“Those police officers - for the first time - will be given a bit of geography to be responsible for and this is one of the ways they will transition from just turning up, solving the problem and clearing off - because the problems that they go out to deal with are going to stay their problem. They are still going to be going back into that same area the next time they are on duty and are going to have a much bigger vested interest.”
However, he admitted that the changes have not been without problems and some officers have been unhappy.
“This is a way to get a bit more out of them and they have taken the mud from me on this. I have changed the place where they go to work. I have changed the function that they are doing in many cases and we have asked a lot of them and we are asking for a mindset change.”
He said the neighbourhood police are at an advantage as they know how to deal with things like a local politician over an anti-social behaviour issue.”
With the change in shift patterns and locations as well as the change to some roles, the Superintendent believes they can do it.
The area has been split into the seven District Electoral Areas (DEA), which the council areas are used to, and created one sub DEA in Banbridge town.