Commander sets out his vision for local policing

Chief Constable George Hamilton.
Chief Constable George Hamilton.

The PSNI’s District Commander for Antrim and Newtownabbey has set out his vision for policing in the new district.

Superintendent Muir Clark has been appointed Commander of the new district, which came into effect on April 1.

Under changes to local policing, 11 new policing districts have been created to mirror the new ‘super council’ areas.

The Newtownabbey policing area, which had been linked with Carrickfergus, is now part of the larger Antrim and Newtownabbey District.

“What is the vision for this new district? It’s very simple; it’s about keeping the community safe, that is what we do,” Supt. Clark told the Times.

He added: “It’s important that people have confidence of the police in this district.

“How we will do that is through policing with the community and that will be key to the successful delivery of policing in this district.”

In keeping that in mind, Supt. Clark said he had five broad principles to focus on for policing within the new district - engagement, education, empowerment, enforcement and evaluation.

“For me, it is important to engage with the communities with which I serve,” Supt. Clark said.

He added that it would entail working with various people - including local political representatives and organisations.

Referring to education, he said it was important for him to be “educated as to what are the important things to people who live in this area”.

“The third principle is empowerment, it is about having engaged and listened, to say to people ‘so there’s a problem, how do we fix it together’,” Supt. Clark said.

He added: “The people in the community or my partners in the statutory or voluntary sector have the confidence to come forward to me as a Commander to say ‘look, I think if we did in this particular way we could achieve the right result’.

“It is about me being open to those suggestions.”

Referring to the fourth principle of enforcement, Supt. Clark continued: “I am in the police, that is what we do and I make no apologies for that.

“I make it very clear that if we engage with community, educate and empower that community and that doesn’t work, well I’m in the police and we will enforce to try and get the resolution we need.

“This principle falls well down the list of working with people to get the right solution.”

Regarding evaluation, Supt. Clark said it was about “taking stock of where are we on a regular basis”.

“To make sure that we are delivering for the communities,” he added.

Supt. Clark, who formerly served as the PSNI’s Head of Road Policing, concluded: “That is really the vision that I have for the new district of Antrim and Newtownabbey.

“But it is about delivering for the people that we serve.”