Newtownabbey policing call after latest church vandalism

A window that had been smashed at Ballyclare Free Presbyterian Church, on the last weekend of 2018.
A window that had been smashed at Ballyclare Free Presbyterian Church, on the last weekend of 2018.

A minister has said there is a perception that anti-social behaviour is on the rise in Ballyclare as he spoke out over the latest act of vandalism against his church.

He said it is the third such window-smashing incident in about a year, and it was discovered when people arrived at the church on Saturday to repair one of the building’s doors – which had been damaged in a separate case of vandalism.

He noted the town police station closed in recent years.

He said that, anecdotally, “there is a rising tide of opinion” that such behaviour is becoming more of a problem, and he would like to know if this popular perception is borne out by official police statistics.

“That’s why I’m asking this question – if they take this policy to remove the police stations, to remove or at least scale down on previous community involvement, is that detrimental, does it lead to a situation where the community is left more vulnerable?” he said. “If so, does the policy need to be revised and reviewed?”

A News Letter investigation in spring 2018 found two-thirds of PSNI stations had been shut in the past 20 years.

The PSNI said it was aware of the incident at the church, and “enquiries are continuing”.

They said: “Police continue to provide a strong, visible presence to the community of Ballyclare to keep those who live and work in the area safe.

“Officers engage with a variety of key partner agencies and stakeholders and welcome the opportunity to speak with members of the community around policing.”