Fears over police cover for Carrick

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News

Concern has been raised over the impact on PSNI response times in Carrickfergus under a planned reorganisation of policing districts.

The borough currently receives response cover from Newtownabbey as part of the D District, which also includes Antrim and Lisburn.

However, following the reform of local government, it is understood that plans to correspond policing districts with the new super-council areas are in the pipeline.

This would mean Carrickfergus, as part of the Mid and East Antrim authority, would receive emergency response cover from Ballymena.

Councillor Noel Williams, chairman of Carrickfergus Policing and Community Safety Partnership, said he had written to Chief Constable George Hamilton earlier this month to outline his concerns over the issue.

He told the Times: “Basically we are concerned that when the new policing districts become coterminous with the new council areas that we will not have adequate cover for Carrickfergus because policing and vehicles will be in Ballymena, nearly 30 miles away.”

Indicating that incidents requiring cover in Carrick are often closely influenced by events in the greater Belfast area, Cllr Williams added: “Because of the geographical and community context, I think it would be more sensible to include Carrick in the greater Belfast area, or indeed to reinstate a response service from Carrick PSNI Station.

Inspector Martin Ruddy of Carrick PSNI responded: “In October we announced the merger of A (North and West) and B District (East and South) to become Belfast City Policing District. By April 2015 our remaining districts will also move to align with the other new council areas. This is in line with the Patten blueprint for policing.

“I understand that there may be concerns about these proposed new structures; however, I would like to assure members of the public that although there will be changes to districts, our policing purpose remains the same. Keeping people safe is still our priority.

“Currently our plans for how we will move from our current 7 district model to 11 districts are still in development. We take a wide range of information into account to assist in developing our plans, including data in relation to calls for service, response times, the geography of the new districts and the needs of communities. It is also critical that we ensure that our structures give us the best opportunity to be both effective in partnership and efficient with public money.”

Inspector Ruddy added: “Normal policing activity such as routine patrols, preventative patrolling, follow up enquiries and planned searches will of course continue regardless of these changes. Policing with the community will always remain our ethos, but we do need to prioritise our reducing resources against threat, harm and risk. Please be assured that, if there is a risk to life or an emergency, we will respond immediately.”