Police chiefs have denied that PSNI neighbourhood and responses teams will be “removed” from Portadown.
DUP MP David Simpson said proposals to relocate officers to Lurgan Station amounted to withdrawal of the neighbourhood policing team from the town.
However, the police insist that officers in Portadown and Banbridge are being stationed in Lurgan from where they will respond “24/7 to all three towns”.
Craigavon Area Commander, Chief Inspector Paul Reid, said that the new order was “a realignment with the new council areas, in view of having had to make cuts of over £38m in the next financial year”.
He added that local policing teams (LPTs) would be based in Lurgan and Armagh – “they will build up an enhanced knowledge of the areas they serve, through community representatives, clergy, school principals and other key figures”.
CI Reid made the statement after Mr Simpson said he had learned that the PSNI were proposing massive cutting measures “in that they will remove the neighbourhood policing and response teams from Portadown and Banbridge, and relocate them in Lurgan”.
He added, “With drug abuse, domestic violence, attacks on the elderly and general rural crime at a massive level, it is vital that we act now to retain the current system of policing in our area.
“I have spoken to senior PSNI figures and members of the policing board regarding the issue. I intend to speak to the Chief Constable in the coming days and I am asking for the support of the general public in this regard.
“Petitions are in place at my Portadown and Banbridge offices for the general public to show their support. All these views will be put to the Chief Constable. The public deserves a fully comprehensive and swift service and this is bound to be affected in the prosed changes, with all resources centred in Lurgan and Armagh.”
However, CI Reid insisted that the LPTs would be “multi-functional and will deliver core policing service to all areas on a daily basis”. He went on, “While we understand the concerns of the local community, residents in the Portadown area can rest assured we will continue to be with them 24/7 and to patrol and provide a visible presence in the area.”
He added that LPT officers would provide an extra level of commitment to allow for long-term problem solving “and develop partnerships in order to reduce offending and reduce crime – they will be involved in engagement, including mediation and conflict resolution”.
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