05/08/2009

North's Police Closure 'List' Revealed

A full list of locations of the Northern police stations at risk of closure has been published.

As unionist politicians united in opposition to the proposed closure of as many as 40 PSNI barracks, today's Belfast News Letter has printed details of what it said is an internal NI Policing Board document issued last year and dealing with likely closures up to 2012.

Co Down is to be especially hard hit, with a long list of stations earmarked to shut, or already in the process of closure.

Holywood, Donaghadee, Comber, Greyabbey, Carryduff, Saintfield, Downpatrick, Dromara, Crossgar, Killyleagh, Portaferry and Rathfriland join two east Belfast stations, Mountpottinger and Willowfield which are at risk or already shut.

Commenting on Mountpottinger's closure in particular, the East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton said: "This closure will raise the fears of the law-abiding citizens with only those who have evil intent in the hearts welcoming such a move.

"All the statistics about the levels of crime reducing are treated with a pinch of salt especially by elderly residents many of whom live in fear of crime.

"It is difficult for those who have suffered as a result of a burglary or endure anti-social behaviour from young thugs to believe they will be safer if these police stations are closed," the Stormont Junior Minister said today.

Meanwhile, in Co Tyrone, barracks closures proposed or underway in Coagh, Pomeroy, Stewartstown, Aughnacloy, Beragh, Omagh, Newtownstewart, Castlederg, Donemana have been similarly slammed.

Mid Ulster Assemblyman Billy Armstrong has expressed his grave concern over the plans and said station closures in Mid-Ulster towns such as Moneymore has already brought about an increase in anti-social behaviour.

The Ulster Unionist MLA, himself a former RUC Reservist, said: "What people really want to know is that their local area is adequately covered with sufficient police officers on the ground.

"People want to see regular and highly visible police patrols to reassure the public and deter criminals," he said.

In north Belfast and Co Antrim, stations on the 'hit list' are Greencastle, on Belfast's Shore Road, as well as Templepatrick, Bushmills, Ballymoney's existing station, Kilrea, Toome, Crumlin and Kells.

In Co Armagh, those at risk or closed are Newtownhamilton, Markethill, Loughgall and Portadown's Mahon Road.

Co Londonderry stations under threat or closed are Bellaghy, Claudy, Eglinton, Ballykelly, Portstewart and Kilrea, while in Fermanagh, they are at Fivemiletown, Lisnaskea, Newtownbutler, Belcoo, Belleek, Enniskillen, Irvinestown and Kesh.

However, according to the NI Policing Board document, new build sites for police stations have either been built, or are about to be built, in Ballymoney, Musgrave Street in Belfast, Downpatrick and Omagh.

See: Dissent Over Police Station Closures

(BMcC/KMcA)

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