District policing model set for major shake up

Carrickfergus Police Station. INCT45-059tc
Carrickfergus Police Station. INCT45-059tc

Superintendent Ryan Henderson has been appointed District Commander for the Mid and East Antrim Area amid a reform of district policing.

The move is part of the biggest shake-up in Northern Ireland policing in years, due to budget pressures and the need for district command boundaries to align with the new super councils.

Supt Henderson will be responsible for all aspects of local policing. He will also set Mid and East Antrim Policing District’s policing priorities along with the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP).

Commenting on the new policing structure, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, the Senior Officer responsible for District Policing, stated: “We will move from the existing seven policing districts to 11. While leaner and more streamlined the new 11 districts will focus on local priorities under the leadership of a district commander.

“The districts will be supported by an area co-ordinating tier covering Belfast and Northern and Southern parts of Northern Ireland. These will provide additional resources to help deal with local priorities and emerging threat, risk and harm issues. They will have the ability to muster and move resources to where the need is greatest on a daily basis.

“This structure will allow us to use officers and staff more flexibly and ensure we keep people safe across all our districts as well as providing local accountability and effective partnership working. Our aim is to ensure that our service to all communities in Northern Ireland is fit for purpose and sustainable while still delivering savings.

Mid and East Antrim Policing District is within the Northern Area co-ordinating tier, which will be led by Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray in his new role as Area Co-ordinator.

Assistant Constable Martin said that response teams would be replaced by a mixture of 25 local policing teams (LPTs) and over 30 neighbourhood policing teams (NPTs) as well as local detectives in each district.

LPTs will deliver core policing on a daily basis while NPTs will be based in areas of higher crime. There will be a partnership approach between LPTs and NPTs. All officers will now attend incidents, to investigate them and work with the community.

Welcoming the commitment to “local priorities”, Councillor Noel Williams, chair of Carrickfergus and District Policing Partnership, said he will be seeking reassurance over the Neighbourhood Police Team.

“It is a local priority for Carrickfergus PCSP that the local Neighbourhood Police Team, and response policing for this area, will not be reduced.

“ACC Stephen Martin is overseeing this change process for the PSNI and I have written to Stephen requesting further information on how the ‘Area Co-ordinating Tier’ will operate in this area. Furthermore, given the proposed substantial reductions in Neighbourhood Police Teams, I am also demanding reassurance from the PSNI on the future of Carrickfergus Neighbourhood Police Team.

“It is very disappointing that with just nine weeks until the changes take effect, there is very little information available in relation to how the new Local Police Teams (LPTs) will operate in the Carrickfergus area.”

Mr Williams wrote to the Chief Constable in December expressing concern for the future of Carrickfergus PSNI station and warning of the dangers in any decision to provide response policing to the borough from over 30 miles away in Ballymena.

Extending congratulations to Superintendent Henderson on his appointment Mr Williams said “he will be very familiar with the Carrickfergus area from his time as superintendent in D-District and I look forward to meeting with him in the near future”.