THE police are urging local people to have their say on the future of Glengormley police station.
Under proposals brought to the Policing Board in December, the Antrim Road facility was earmarked for possible closure as part of money saving proposals.
Now the local Area Commander, Chief Inspector Stephen Reid, is seeking the views of local people as part of a six-week public consultation exercise on the future of the station.
Chief Inspector Reid said: “A final decision has not been made, however, people will be aware that we have been carrying out a major review of police buildings in D District which includes the Newtownabbey area.
“As part of that review I have had to look very closely at all of the stations in my area, including Glengormley, to ensure we are using all of our resources, including buildings, in the most effective and efficient way to ensure we provide the best possible personal, professional and protective policing service to the people of Northern Ireland.
“We have a pattern of police stations unlike any other part of the United Kingdom. The current police estate remains 70 per cent bigger in comparison to other UK police services of similar size. It reflects the demands of a very different era in policing.
“Our aim is that policing should be a part of the local community. However, underused buildings will not achieve this, investment in police officers and staff working in the local community will.
“Recent restructuring across the police service has delivered an additional 57 police officers to front-line duties across D District, 18 of these serve the Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus areas.
“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams are working with their local communities, identifying and working to resolve the issues which matter the most to local people.
“Overall levels of reported crime in Northern Ireland are at a 12-year low. This reduction has been delivered by the public working in partnership with police officers, not by police buildings.
“The public are increasingly engaging with police in different ways - from online reporting of non-emergency and hate crime, to contacting local Neighbourhood Policing Teams directly through telephone numbers provided on our website or via our Facebook page.
“As a result of people increasingly using these alternative means to interact with police, fewer people are visiting or using police stations.
“The introduction of BlackBerry smartphones which have now been distributed to over 4,000 frontline police officers, has also reduced the need for officers to return to a police station to complete administrative tasks. This has already increased the amount of patrol time per officer per shift by over 15 per cent - meaning an extra hour per officer, per shift, is spent on the street, in the community they serve.”
The Chief Inspector continued: “As with all other UK police services and publicly funded bodies, the PSNI has undertaken to deliver £135 million in efficiency savings back to the government over the next four years.
“As part of our agreed plan to deliver these savings, which was previously submitted to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, we must deliver a £2.2 million saving in the estate baseline budget in order to protect frontline staff and services.
“This means we cannot continue to fund the current size of our police estate.
“My team and I are committed to listening to people in the communities we serve. I assure you that a decision to recommend the closure of a station is not taken lightly.
“I can understand that some may take comfort in having a police station nearby. However, modern policing is about people, not buildings.”
He added: “I want to have a constructive discussion with the people of Glengormley, and indeed the wider Newtownabbey area, about the way forward. I want to talk about how policing is currently delivered and how it would continue to be delivered if police stations are closed.
“I encourage everyone with an interest in or influence on policing to participate in the debate. I have asked Inspector Martin Ruddy to lead on the six week public consultation process.”
You can share your views by emailing Inspector Ruddy at email@example.com, by writing to Inspector Martin Ruddy, Glengormley PSNI Station, 244 Antrim Road, Glengormley, Newtownabbey, BT36 7QX or by calling Tel: 028 9025 9332 between 9am and 4pm.
Chief Inspector Reid added: “In collaboration with our local District Policing Partnership we also plan to hold a public meeting on Monday March 5 in Mossley Mill in order for me to listen to views you may have relation to this review.”
The consultation will begin on January 30 and last for six weeks.