Councillors raise policing concerns with PSNI

Published: 14th January 2016

A group of Fermanagh and Omagh District Councillors and Council officers met with Assistant Chief Constables (ACCs) Stephen Martin and Alan Todd and other senior police officers on 7 January 2016 to discuss a wide range of issues arising as a result of the implementation of a new policing model in the district since September 2015.

The Councillors, who are also members of Fermanagh and Omagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), were Cllr Sorcha McAnespy, Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership, Cllr John Coyle, Cllr Stephen McCann, Cllr Allan Rainey and Cllr Howard Thornton. They were accompanied by Mr Brendan Hegarty, Chief Executive of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and two other Council officers.

During the frank and open discussion, Councillors highlighted their concerns about the impact of changes to policing in the district. They also expressed their dissatisfaction that the new policing model was introduced with no community, Council or PCSP consultation.

The PSNI explained that given the extent of the budgetary constraints and the realignment of the PSNI areas to become coterminous with the new 11 Council boundaries, their options were limited.  The PSNI further explained that changes were introduced for operational purposes and consultation on these matters was not an option.

During the meeting Councillors raised their concerns regarding the change to Neighbourhood Policing. ACC Martin confirmed that the PSNI was committed to community policing but, given the greatly reduced budgets, this would have to be delivered in a different way.

Issues around the PSNI’s non-emergency 101 telephone number were also highlighted by Councillors and these have been noted by the PSNI.

The PSNI confirmed that it works closely with its counterparts, An Garda Síochána, in the Republic of Ireland regarding cross border policing and meets Garda representatives on a regular basis.

Councillors welcomed the PSNI’s decision to retain the roads policing unit in Enniskillen, given the high level of road traffic accidents within the district.

ACC Martin also confirmed that the imminent closure of Beragh Police Station was no longer envisaged in the short to medium term and that no other police station closures within the district were imminent.

The change of location of dedicated officers trained to deal with Domestic Violence was also discussed, with the PSNI explaining that the development of a single specialist department was in line with UK best practice.

Council members also raised their concerns regarding the PSNI’s intention to withdraw funding for Enniskillen and Omagh CCTV schemes which ACC Martin agreed to reconsider.

The Council delegation updated the PSNI on the proposed Enniskillen island pathway, a section of which would go along the waters edge of Enniskillen Police Station. The PSNI advised that this section of the walkway cannot go ahead following a security assessment, however committed to keeping the proposal under review.

The Councillors thanked ACCs Martin and Todd and their staff for taking the time to discuss these policing matters.

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